Dan Bongino: A report from the Government Accountability Office is making headlines as the latest “bombshell” of the day that’ll fizzle out shortly. While the impeachment circus began on the thesis that there was a quid pro quo between President Donald Trump and Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky (which both deny), the GAO released an opinion that withholding aid for any reason is illegal. The timing is almost too perfect, being released right before the Senate trial officially began.
According to Fox News:
The Government Accountability Office (GAO) issued a legal opinion on Thursday saying that President Trump’s administration broke the law by withholding defense aid to Ukraine. That money, $214 million which had been allocated to the Department of Defense for security assistance, was appropriated by Congress and therefore the administration did not have the right to hold it back just because it disagreed with its allocation, the opinion from the nonpartisan government watchdog said. “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 opinion said. “[The Office of Management and Budget] OMB withheld funds for a policy reason … not a programmatic delay. Therefore, we conclude that the OMB violated the ICA [Impoundment Control Act].”
Naturally, the Office of Management and Budget (which withheld the aid) dissented from the report.
At the center of this is the aforementioned Impoundment Control Act (ICA), which governs how the White House distributes money approved by Congress. The ICA took effect in 1974 in response to Richard Nixon refusing to spend $12 billion in congressionally appropriated funds (who was working under the belief that withholding funds would lower inflation).
It’s odd that the GAO didn’t produce a similar report when the Obama Administration withheld lethal aid to Ukraine in 2014, though they did say Obama broke the law in exchanging five Taliban commanders for a U.S. soldier without giving Congress 30 days notice. KEEP READING