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White House 'broke law' by withholding Ukraine aid, says watchdog


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https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-51139939

 

White House 'broke law' by withholding Ukraine aid, says watchdog

The White HouseImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES

The White House broke the law by withholding aid to Ukraine that had been approved by the US Congress, a government watchdog has said.

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) comes as President Donald Trump faces an impeachment trial in the Senate related to the withheld aid.

He is accused of freezing aid to pressure Ukraine to investigate a political rival.

Ukraine has opened a probe on separate allegations linked to the impeachment.

Why was the aid freeze illegal?

"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 decision by the GAO said.

The White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) "withheld funds for a policy reason, which is not permitted under the Impoundment Control Act (ICA)", the ruling continued.

The 1974 Impoundment Control Act says it is illegal for the White House to withhold aid appropriated by Congress. It also says the White House must first alert Congress before it delays or blocked funds, which the Trump administration did not do.

No penalties come with a violation of the ICA and multiple presidents have fallen foul of it. The act does allow the agency to sue to have the blocked or delayed funds released, but that has only happened once in history.

The aid to Ukraine was released in September 2019, more than two months after it was first blocked.

The White House said it disagreed with the GAO's opinion, accusing the agency of trying to "insert themselves into the media's controversy of the day".

Democrats welcomed the ruling. The BBC's Anthony Zurcher in Washington says many are now making the argument that Republicans were so keen to find ways to pressure the Ukrainian government to open politically helpful investigations that they were willing to break the law to do it.

In a news conference on Thursday morning, House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the White House "broke the law".

Marie Yovanovitch testifies before the House Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill November 15, 2019Image copyrightGETTY IMAGES Image captionMarie Yovanovitch was a key witness in the impeachment proceedings against President Trump

What led to Ukraine's investigation?

The ruling comes as Ukrainian authorities began a criminal investigation into whether Mr Trump's supporters were spying on the former US Ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch.

The former envoy's movements were being monitored, according to letters, phone records, notes and flash drives obtained from Lev Parnas, a Ukrainian-American businessman.

Mr Parnas is an aide to Mr Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani.

Some of the materials - which House Democrats are presenting as evidence in the impeachment inquiry - show Mr Parnas and Mr Giuliani discussing the removal of Ms Yovanovitch, who was fired last May for reasons that remain uncle

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2 hours ago, TrumpBGoneSoon said:

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-51139939

 

White House 'broke law' by withholding Ukraine aid, says watchdog

The White HouseImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES

The White House broke the law by withholding aid to Ukraine that had been approved by the US Congress, a government watchdog has said.

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) comes as President Donald Trump faces an impeachment trial in the Senate related to the withheld aid.

He is accused of freezing aid to pressure Ukraine to investigate a political rival.

Ukraine has opened a probe on separate allegations linked to the impeachment.

Why was the aid freeze illegal?

"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 decision by the GAO said.

The White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) "withheld funds for a policy reason, which is not permitted under the Impoundment Control Act (ICA)", the ruling continued.

The 1974 Impoundment Control Act says it is illegal for the White House to withhold aid appropriated by Congress. It also says the White House must first alert Congress before it delays or blocked funds, which the Trump administration did not do.

No penalties come with a violation of the ICA and multiple presidents have fallen foul of it. The act does allow the agency to sue to have the blocked or delayed funds released, but that has only happened once in history.

The aid to Ukraine was released in September 2019, more than two months after it was first blocked.

The White House said it disagreed with the GAO's opinion, accusing the agency of trying to "insert themselves into the media's controversy of the day".

Democrats welcomed the ruling. The BBC's Anthony Zurcher in Washington says many are now making the argument that Republicans were so keen to find ways to pressure the Ukrainian government to open politically helpful investigations that they were willing to break the law to do it.

In a news conference on Thursday morning, House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the White House "broke the law".

Marie Yovanovitch testifies before the House Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill November 15, 2019Image copyrightGETTY IMAGES Image captionMarie Yovanovitch was a key witness in the impeachment proceedings against President Trump

What led to Ukraine's investigation?

The ruling comes as Ukrainian authorities began a criminal investigation into whether Mr Trump's supporters were spying on the former US Ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch.

The former envoy's movements were being monitored, according to letters, phone records, notes and flash drives obtained from Lev Parnas, a Ukrainian-American businessman.

Mr Parnas is an aide to Mr Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani.

Some of the materials - which House Democrats are presenting as evidence in the impeachment inquiry - show Mr Parnas and Mr Giuliani discussing the removal of Ms Yovanovitch, who was fired last May for reasons that remain uncle

"Except, if a GAO legal opinion justifies impeachment, Obama should have been impeached."

 

It's all here folks...

 

https://pjmedia.com/trending/the-gao-ruled-obama-broke-the-law-but-no-one-called-for-his-impeachment/

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