GAO Decision –It is a Violation of Law to Withhold Funds Appropriated By Congress
Subtitle: The Jury in Trump’s Impeachment Trial is Rigged By Republican Senators Who Hold The Majority.
Donald Trump made it publicly known that he disregards all reports by U.S. Intelligence agencies that Russia interfered in the 2016 Presidential Election. It is more disturbing that currently, U. S. Congressional Republican Senators are disregarding the findings and conclusion of the GAO. Sticking to Trump’s talking points, and in spite of the GAO’s report, Republican Senators declare that Trump did no wrong when withholding funds from the Ukraine. Those funds were to assist the Ukraine in defending themselves against Russia’s aggression.
The United States Government Accountability Office, (formerly, General Accounting Office), is an independent, nonpartisan agency that works for Congress. GAO is the federal government’s audit institution. It is part of the Legislative Branch of government under the Budget and Accounting Act of 1921. Its history is at this link.
On Thursday, January 16, 2020, GAO released its report on the withholding of funds of vital military aid to the Ukraine. It found that President Trump broke the law when he withheld those funds.
Representative Adam Schiff, (D-CA) made the following statement regarding GAO’s findings.
“Today’s decision by the Government Accountability Office that President Trump broke the law when he withheld hundreds of millions of dollars of vital military aid to Ukraine demonstrates once again that the President violated his constitutional duty to take care that the laws be faithfully executed as he put his personal and political interests above the interests of the nation and its security.”
“President Trump illegally withheld U.S. taxpayer dollars as leverage to get the Ukrainian president to help him win reelection, another indication of the extreme lengths to which the President would go to coerce a foreign power into helping him cheat to win. The President was willing to violate the law in withholding security assistance from an ally at war with Russia, a gross abuse of the powers of his office, acts for which he was impeached.”
“In its opinion, GAO states that ‘faithful execution of the law does not permit the President to substitute his own policy priorities for those that Congress has enacted into law.’ President Trump’s conduct is all the more egregious because he was not withholding the funds for a policy reason at all, but for the corrupt purpose of seeking foreign help in his reelection campaign. “
The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) blocked the Defense Department from spending money designated by Congress on July 25, “pending a policy decision,” according to OMB General Counsel Mark Paoletta.
According to Thomas Armstrong, general counsel for GAO, a 1974 law that governs budget procedure does not permit OMB to withhold funds for policy reasons. The GAO’s report is 9 pages that you can see at this link.
Reported by CNN, Republican Senator Joni Ernst of Iowa said “ “I think there is a lot that goes on in administrations that we are not aware of, but is it an impeachable, unlawful offense? That has not been clearly demonstrated.”
It begs to question if Senator Ernst forgets that Congress passed legislation approving the appropriation of the subject funds. In its report to support its finding, GAO cited the Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974, Pub. L. No. 93-344, title X, § 1015, 88 Stat. 297, 336 (July 12, 1974), codified at 2 U.S.C. § 686.
On page 9 of the GAO’s report, it states:
“The Constitution specifically vests Congress with the power of the purse, providing that “No Money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law.” U.S. Const. art. I, § 9, cl. 7. The Constitution also vests all legislative powers in Congress and sets forth the procedures of bicameralism and presentment, through which the President may accept or veto a bill passed by both Houses of Congress, and Congress may subsequently override a presidential veto. Id., art. I, § 7, cl. 2, 3. The President is not vested with the power to ignore or amend any such duly enacted law. See Clinton v. City of New York, 524 U.S. 417, 438 (1998) (the Constitution does not authorize the President “to enact, to amend, or to repeal statutes”). Instead, he must “faithfully execute” the law as Congress enacts it. U.S. Const., art. II, § 3.”
Some have said to keep our eyes on moderate Republicans to see if Donald Trump will be removed from office. In my opinion, the GAO’s report should require ALL Senators, Republican and Democrat, to respect the findings of the GAO and vote Trump out of office. If they do not vote Trump out of office, then they are disrespecting and undermining an official U.S. agency the same as Trump disrespects the findings of U.S. Intelligence agencies regarding Russian interference in our 2016 Presidential election.
Last week, I watched the impeachment trial and shall continue to do so as much as time permits. THIS NATION IS IN CRISIS.