January 16, 202010:16 AM ET
A federal watchdog concluded that President Trump broke the law when he froze assistance funds for Ukraine last year, according to a report unveiled on Thursday.
The White House has said that it believed Trump was acting within his legal authority.
Trump’s decision to freeze military aid appropriated by Congress is at the heart of impeachment proceedings against the president that are shifting venues this week from the Democrat-controlled House to the majority-Republican Senate.
Democratic lawmakers have accused Trump of abusing his office by withholding hundreds of millions in assistance in order to pressure Ukraine to investigate his political rivals.
The Office of Management and Budget blocked the Defense Department from spending money designated by Congress on July 25, “pending a policy decision,” according to OMB General Counsel Mark Paoletta. That hold was lifted on Sept. 12.
But a 1974 law that governs budget procedure within the government “does not permit OMB to withhold funds for policy reasons,” said Thomas Armstrong, general counsel for the watchdog Government Accountability Office.
The full report is available here.