U.S. Watchdog Says Trump Administration Violated Law by Withholding Ukraine Aid

Last updated 1/16/2019 at 11:13 a.m. ET.

The White House violated federal law by withholding security aid approved by lawmakers for Ukraine, a nonpartisan congressional watchdog said on Thursday, in a blow for U.S. President Donald Trump as the Senate prepared to hold a trial on whether to remove him from office.

The Democratic-led House of Representatives on Wednesday sent the Senate the two charges it passed last month accusing Trump of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress arising from his dealings with Ukraine, clearing the way for only the third impeachment trial of a president to begin in earnest next week.

The abuse of power cited by the House included Trump’s withholding of $391 million passed by Congress in security aid for Ukraine, a move aimed at pressuring Kiev into investigating political rival Joe Biden, the Republican president’s possible Democratic opponent in the Nov. 3 U.S. election.

“Faithful execution of the law does not permit the President to substitute his own policy priorities for those that Congress has enacted into law,” the Government Accountability Office (GAO) concluded, referring to the fact that Congress had already voted to appropriate the funds.

While the agency’s assessment was a setback to Trump, it was unclear how or even if it would figure in his trial in the Republican-led Senate given that key issues such as whether witnesses will appear or new evidence will be considered remain up in the air.

An arm of Congress, the GAO is viewed as a top auditing agency for the federal government that advises lawmakers and various government entities on how taxpayer dollars are spent.

Its findings are not legally binding, but its reports are seen by lawmakers as objective, reliable and generally uncontested. The GAO has no prosecutorial power.

The $391 million was approved by lawmakers to help Ukraine combat Russia-backed separatists in the eastern part of the country. After being withheld by the White House, the money ultimately was provided to Ukraine in September after the controversy had spilled into public view.

House members voted on Wednesday 228-193, largely along party lines, to give the Senate the task of putting the Republican president on trial. The Senate is expected to acquit Trump, keeping him in office, as none of its 53 Republicans has voiced support for removing him, a step that requires a two-thirds majority.

Trump denies wrongdoing and has called the impeachment process a sham. Ceremony, rather than substance, was expected to mark Thursday’s proceedings, with the seven House “managers” prosecuting Trump to present the articles of impeachment to the Senate at noon (1700 GMT).

The Senate will later in the day invite U.S. Chief Justice John Roberts to the chamber to be sworn in to preside over the trial and, eventually, to swear in all 100 senators to serve as jurors. It will then formally notify the White House of Trump’s impending trial.

(Reporting by Richard Cowan and David Morgan; Additional reporting by Susan Heavey, Susan Cornwell and Patricia Zengerle; Writing by Sonya Hepinstall; Editing by Will Dunham)

Responses

  1. >Usually Confused – HE Admits it<

    "Chant: Lock him up" would apply more to the Kenyan Marxist than to Trump. Article of 1/16/2020 in the American Spectator under the headline: "Trump? It's Time to Prosecute Obama" followed immediately by "cash payments to Iranian mullahs violated Federal Law." . . . . which constitute felony offenses under criminal law punishable by up to 20 years imprisonment. Details well worth pondering.

    So WHAT has the Federal Government been waiting for? Better yet; WHY isn't illegitimate #44 already in prison? Maybe the Feds could include the Alinsky radicalized Hildabeast as his cell mate. LOCK THEM UP.

  2. Chant:

    “Lock him up!”
    “Lock him up!”
    “Lock him up!”

  3. Well then it seems to me that ex president Obama and ex Vice President Biden should be impeached also and yes they can be still and Biden should be off the Democratic ticket

    1. Bonnie, read the Impoundment Control Act and you will see how inane your comment is. Not only was Congress notified, but Senators Portman and Ron Johnson co-wrote the letter praising Biden’s actions. The letter was signed by all members of the Senate Ukraine caucus, which included the Republican writers and Kirk. Portman and Johnson released the letter to the media in 2016. So it is impossible to claim Congress was not notified as required by ICA. If Trump sent notification to Congress, even after he was encouraged by Pompeo, Esper and Bolton to release his hold on the congressional passed and Trump signed into law aid, then McCarthy or McConnell would have released the letter during the House Impeachment inquiry. Duffy’s emails indicate OMB planned to put the blame on DOD. And if you recall, the WH’s first response was that it wasn’t Trump’s hold but DOD and State department’s hold. You did not consider it a lie as it was what you wanted to hear. Make America SANE Again.

  4. I think I’m gonna go with Alan Dershowitz’ opinion that the GAO got it “EXACTLY backwards” and is “completely wrong”. As he said, “remember that the GAO is a Congressional organization and that it ALWAYS sides with Congress.”

  5. US watchdog promotes BS and there is actually law written do deal with this if agencies disagree with the executive. What GAO proved is DS is swamp too.

  6. I cannot recall #44 being impeached for the times (more than just once) that he withheld funds from Ukraine; or #44’s corrupt VP threatening to with hold $1 BILLION in aid to Ukraine – – then BRAGGING about his quid pro quo on video tape.

  7. “a nonpartisan congressional watchdog ”. Is there such a thing as nonpartisan when it comes to President Trump? Of course not. Does this dog have a name? If Ukraine President Zelensky said there was no quid pro quo why wouldn’t he be believed?

    1. Cherl, this dog has a name, in case you forgot: DONALD JOHN TRUMP. I just wonder: as much as he lies, does he really enjoy lying to the American people, or does he really have no concept of what truth REALLY is? Either or, is this what we should accept for a “leader of the world?”

    1. most intelligent comment i’ve read of yours. duh is right at your intellectual limit.

  8. another if i tell you he did wrong then you must. believe what i say!

  9. This isn’t a story or a blow to Trump they already decided what they’ll do and it’s to vote to not impeach.

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