The White House broke the law by withholding Ukraine aid, nonpartisan government agency concludes

Brendan Morrow

The White House violated the law when it withheld aid to Ukraine, a nonpartisan government agency concluded.

The Government Accountability Office announced its legal decision Thursday, saying the Office of Management and Budget's withholding of Ukraine aid that Congress had appropriated was not lawful.

"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 said. "OMB withheld funds for a policy reason, which is not permitted under the Impoundment Control Act (ICA). ... Therefore, we conclude that OMB violated the ICA."

The withheld aid to Ukraine in July 2019 was at the center of the House impeachment inquiry into President Trump, which examined allegations that the president froze the aid to pressure Ukraine into announcing an investigation that might benefit him in the 2020 presidential election. The House last month passed two articles of impeachment charging Trump with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, and the Senate's impeachment trial is expected to begin next week.

An Office of Management and Budget spokesperson said "we disagree with GAO's opinion" and that "OMB uses its apportionment authority to ensure taxpayer dollars are properly spent consistent with the president's priorities and with the law."

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