WASHINGTON — The White House violated federal law in withholding security assistance to Ukraine, an action at the center of President Donald Trump’s impeachment, a federal watchdog agency said Thursday.
The Government Accountability Office said in a report that the Office of Management and Budget broke the law in holding up the aid, which Congress passed less than a year ago, saying “the President is not vested with the power to ignore or amend any such duly enacted law.”
The aid in question was held up last summer on orders from Trump but was released in September after Congress pushed for its release and a whistleblower’s complaint about Trump’s July call with the Ukrainian leader became public.
The independent agency, which reports to Congress, said OMB violated the Impoundment Control Act by delaying the security assistance for “policy reasons,” rather than technical budgetary needs.
Capitol Hill Democrats seized on the report as evidence of a lawless White House. led by acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, who is a key figure in the impeachment investigation of Trump.
Democrats want Mulvaney, who is still officially the OMB director, to be subpoenaed as a witness in Trump’s impeachment trial. The Senate opened the trial Thursday, with opening arguments set to begin next week.