Nonpartisan watchdog claims Trump administration illegally withheld aid to Ukraine

by Bryan Brammer · Jan 16th, 2020 12:46 pm

According to a nonpartisan watchdog report released on Thursday, the Trump administration violated a congressional law that dictates how the White House distributes funds by illegally withholding aid to Ukraine last summer.

The Government Accountability Office determined that the Office of Management and Budget, which assists the presidential administration with the annual federal budget, unscrupulously froze $214 million in Defense Department funding to Ukraine for policy reasons.

"Faithful execution of the law does not permit the President to substitute his own policy priorities for those that Congress has enacted into law," GAO wrote in its decision. "OMB withheld funds for a policy reason, which is not permitted under the Impoundment Control Act."

GOA also claimed that the administration did not adhere to the legal procedures for notifying Congress of the hold.

The Office of Management and Budget emphatically disagreed with the opinion of GOA, arguing that the decision to withhold funds was necessary while the administration performed its due diligence.

"We disagree with GAO's opinion," a spokeswoman for OMB said in a statement. "OMB uses its apportionment authority to ensure taxpayer dollars are properly spent consistent with the president's priorities and with the law."

According to a memo released by OMB general counsel Mark Paoletta early in December, the administration had the legal authority to withhold the funds from Ukraine.

"For decades, OMB has routinely used its apportionment authority to prevent funds from being used," Paoletta said.


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