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Thread: GAO Finds Trump Administration Broke the Law by Withholding Ukraine Aid

  1. #1

    GAO Finds Trump Administration Broke the Law by Withholding Ukraine Aid

    Stay tuned.

    The Government Accountability Office says the Trump administration broke the law when it withheld US security aid to Ukraine last year that had been appropriated by Congress -- an issue at the center of the impeachment of President Donald Trump.

    The GAO, a nonpartisan congressional watchdog, said in a decision issued Thursday that the White House budget office violated the Impoundment Control Act, a 1974 law that limits the White House from withholding funds that Congress has appropriated.

    The Office of Management and Budget told the GAO it "withheld the funds to ensure that they were not spent 'in a manner that could conflict with the President's foreign policy,'" said Thomas Armstrong, the GAO's general counsel.

    "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 GAO wrote. "OMB withheld funds for a policy reason, which is not permitted under the Impoundment Control Act. The withholding was not a programmatic delay. Therefore, we conclude that OMB violated the ICA."

    https://www.cnn.com/2020/01/16/polit...aid/index.html
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  3. #2
    Foreign aid is breaking the law. It's unconstitutional.

  4. #3
    the law of entangling alliances? yeap i heard of that one...

    why I should worship the state (who apparently is the only party that can possess guns without question).
    The state's only purpose is to kill and control. Why do you worship it? - Sola_Fide

    Baptiste said.
    At which point will Americans realize that creating an unaccountable institution that is able to pass its liability on to tax-payers is immoral and attracts sociopaths?

  5. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by Warlord View Post
    Foreign aid is breaking the law. It's unconstitutional.
    Link?

  6. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by Zippyjuan View Post
    Link?
    https://constitutionus.com/

    Show me where foreign aid is.

  7. #6
    The first problem with foreign aid is that it is palpably unconstitutional. The list of powers granted to the federal government in Article I, Section 8, of the Constitution includes nothing remotely related to providing charity, feeding the hungry, fighting poverty, eradicating disease, combating sex trafficking, defending human rights, expanding opportunities for women, ending child labor, increasing literacy, building infrastructure, promoting democracy, protecting human dignity, assisting refugees, drilling wells, developing economies, job training, mitigating pollution, or combating climate change. And there are no exceptions for natural disasters or humanitarian crises. Grover Cleveland once vetoed a bill passed by Congress to provide financial assistance to farmers suffering from a drought. In his veto message he said he opposed the bill to aid farmers because he could “find no warrant for such an appropriation in the Constitution.” And when Congress appropriated $15,000 to assist some French refugees, Congressman (and later President) James Madison objected, saying, “I cannot undertake to lay my finger on that article of the Constitution which granted a right to Congress of expending, on objects of benevolence, the money of their constituents.” If it is unconstitutional for the U.S. government to provide welfare to Americans, then it is even more unconstitutional to hand out welfare to foreigners.

    https://www.fff.org/explore-freedom/...s-foreign-aid/

  8. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Warlord View Post
    https://constitutionus.com/

    Show me where foreign aid is.
    The Power of the Purse does not detail what money can and cannot be spent on. It leaves it to Congress to determine what they wish to use money for.

    Section 7
    1: All Bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives; but the Senate may propose or concur with Amendments as on other Bills.

    2: Every Bill which shall have passed the House of Representatives and the Senate, shall, before it become a Law, be presented to the President of the United States; If he approve he shall sign it, but if not he shall return it, with his Objections to that House in which it shall have originated, who shall enter the Objections at large on their Journal, and proceed to reconsider it. If after such Reconsideration two thirds of that House shall agree to pass the Bill, it shall be sent, together with the Objections, to the other House, by which it shall likewise be reconsidered, and if approved by two thirds of that House, it shall become a Law. But in all such Cases the Votes of both Houses shall be determined by yeas and Nays, and the Names of the Persons voting for and against the Bill shall be entered on the Journal of each House respectively. If any Bill shall not be returned by the President within ten Days (Sundays excepted) after it shall have been presented to him, the Same shall be a Law, in like Manner as if he had signed it, unless the Congress by their Adjournment prevent its Return, in which Case it shall not be a Law.
    Also:

    3: To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes;

  9. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Zippyjuan View Post
    The Power of the Purse does not detail what money can and cannot be spent on. It leaves it to Congress to determine what they wish to use money for.



    Also:
    Article I, Section 8 are the powers granted to the Feds. Also 'commerce' is not aid..




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  11. #9
    "He's talkin' to his gut like it's a person!!" -me
    "dumpster diving isn't professional." - angelatc
    "You don't need a medical degree to spot obvious bullshit, that's actually a separate skill." -Scott Adams
    "When you are divided, and angry, and controlled, you target those 'different' from you, not those responsible [controllers]" -Q

    "Each of us must choose which course of action we should take: education, conventional political action, or even peaceful civil disobedience to bring about necessary changes. But let it not be said that we did nothing." - Ron Paul

    "Paul said "the wave of the future" is a coalition of anti-authoritarian progressive Democrats and libertarian Republicans in Congress opposed to domestic surveillance, opposed to starting new wars and in favor of ending the so-called War on Drugs."

  12. #10
    This is an unconstitutional proxy war against Russia and Joe Biden extorted money from the Ukrainian government and they are covering it up with this sham impeachment because Trump tried to uncover evidence. This is a cover up. This is worse than spygate.

  13. #11

  14. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by angelatc View Post
    They also ruled that Obama broke the law with the Bergdahl swap. It's toothless.
    That was Saint Obama.

    Not BeezelTrump.

    If the senates acquits him, the Bolshies in the House will impeach again on this.

  15. #13
    I want to withhold all foreign aid as we shouldn't be giving money to other countries in the first place.
    "Perhaps one of the most important accomplishments of my administration is minding my own business."

    Calvin Coolidge

  16. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by Anti Federalist View Post
    That was Saint Obama.

    Not BeezelTrump.

    If the senates acquits him, the Bolshies in the House will impeach again on this.
    Blame the spineless GOP. They held both houses.

  17. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by angelatc View Post
    Blame the spineless GOP. They held both houses.
    I do.

    Unequivocally.

    I blame those feckless $#@!s for not getting rid of ObamaCare while they had the chance as well.

    My health and dental insurance (for a $#@!ty policy mind you) for the family cost, in combined employed/employee payments, over $20,000 $#@!ing dollars last year.

  18. #16
    A worthless opinion. The executive branch is also required by law to ensure foreign aid is not abused or inappropriately used by corrupt governments.
    I just want objectivity on this forum and will point out flawed sources or points of view at my leisure.

    Quote Originally Posted by spudea on 04/20/16
    There won't be a contested convention
    Quote Originally Posted by spudea on 05/30/17
    The shooting of Gabrielle Gifford was blamed on putting a crosshair on a political map. I wonder what event we'll see justified with pictures like this.



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  20. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by angelatc View Post
    Blame the spineless GOP. They held both houses.
    Out of rep
    "The Patriarch"

  21. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by angelatc View Post
    They also ruled that Obama broke the law with the Bergdahl swap. It's toothless.
    That would be very busy if they tried to keep track of every violation of the law committed by government. Sure, it’s toothless, but it’s primary purpose is for a partisan political campaign talking point.
    "Foreign aid is taking money from the poor people of a rich country, and giving it to the rich people of a poor country." - Ron Paul
    "Beware the Military-Industrial-Financial-Corporate-Internet-Media-Government Complex." - B4L update of General Dwight D. Eisenhower
    "Debt is the drug, Wall St. Banksters are the dealers, and politicians are the addicts." - B4L
    "Totally free immigration? I've never taken that position. I believe in national sovereignty." - Ron Paul
    They are what they hate.” - B4L


    The views and opinions expressed here are solely my own, and do not represent this forum or any other entities or persons.

  22. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by Anti Federalist View Post
    That was Saint Obama.

    Not BeezelTrump.

    If the senates acquits him, the Bolshies in the House will impeach again on this.
    Bet they won’t impeach based upon extrajudicial assassination. That’s one thing that if Congress were honest would be a slam dunk.
    "Foreign aid is taking money from the poor people of a rich country, and giving it to the rich people of a poor country." - Ron Paul
    "Beware the Military-Industrial-Financial-Corporate-Internet-Media-Government Complex." - B4L update of General Dwight D. Eisenhower
    "Debt is the drug, Wall St. Banksters are the dealers, and politicians are the addicts." - B4L
    "Totally free immigration? I've never taken that position. I believe in national sovereignty." - Ron Paul
    They are what they hate.” - B4L


    The views and opinions expressed here are solely my own, and do not represent this forum or any other entities or persons.

  23. #20
    Quote Originally Posted by spudea View Post
    A worthless opinion. The executive branch is also required by law to ensure foreign aid is not abused or inappropriately used by corrupt governments.
    Exactly, the money was released and the law requires him to do what he did.
    Never attempt to teach a pig to sing; it wastes your time and annoys the pig.

    Robert Heinlein

    Give a man an inch and right away he thinks he's a ruler

    Groucho Marx

    I love mankind…it’s people I can’t stand.

    Linus, from the Peanuts comic

    You cannot have liberty without morality and morality without faith

    Alexis de Torqueville

    Those who fail to learn from the past are condemned to repeat it.
    Those who learn from the past are condemned to watch everybody else repeat it

    A Zero Hedge comment

  24. #21
    This is so called aid is a military aid which would aided Ukrainian nationalist groups in Ukraine.

  25. #22
    Quote Originally Posted by spudea View Post
    A worthless opinion. The executive branch is also required by law to ensure foreign aid is not abused or inappropriately used by corrupt governments.
    The opinion states that the Department of Defense had certified on May 23, 2019 that Ukraine had taken “substantial actions” on “defense institutional reforms.” Thereafter, the OMB witheld the funds to, in its words, "allow for an interagency process to determine the best use of such funds." No mention was made of investigating corruption. At one point the OMB said that the withholding was necessary to make sure the funds weren't spent "in a manner that could conflict with the President's foreign policy", even though according to the GAO the applicable statute doesn't permit withholding for policy reasons.

    In addition, the report states that "at the time OMB issued the first apportionment footnote withholding the USAI funds, DOD had already produced a plan for expending the funds. See DOD Certification, at 4–14. DOD had decided on the items it planned to purchase
    and had provided this information to Congress on May 23, 2019. Id. Program execution was therefore well underway when OMB issued the apportionment footnotes. As a result, we cannot accept OMB’s assertion that its actions are programmatic."

    The report can be read here: https://www.gao.gov/assets/710/703909.pdf
    We have long had death and taxes as the two standards of inevitability. But there are those who believe that death is the preferable of the two. "At least," as one man said, "there's one advantage about death; it doesn't get worse every time Congress meets."
    Erwin N. Griswold

    Taxes: Of life's two certainties, the only one for which you can get an automatic extension.
    Anonymous

  26. #23
    Quote Originally Posted by Zippyjuan View Post
    The Power of the Purse does not detail what money can and cannot be spent on. It leaves it to Congress to determine what they wish to use money for.



    Also:
    Preamble to the Bill of Rights: In order to prevent the misconstruction and abuse of powers, further declaratory and restrictive clauses shall be added.

    Wrong again, Zippy!

  27. #24
    The Impoundment Control Act is unconstitutional.
    Never attempt to teach a pig to sing; it wastes your time and annoys the pig.

    Robert Heinlein

    Give a man an inch and right away he thinks he's a ruler

    Groucho Marx

    I love mankind…it’s people I can’t stand.

    Linus, from the Peanuts comic

    You cannot have liberty without morality and morality without faith

    Alexis de Torqueville

    Those who fail to learn from the past are condemned to repeat it.
    Those who learn from the past are condemned to watch everybody else repeat it

    A Zero Hedge comment



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  29. #25
    The law in question: https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/t.../subchapter-II
    President may delay spending, giving Congress up to 45 days to rescind the legislation.
    If delayed further, the Comptroller General may notify Congress, with 25 days notice, he will sue (civil) to compel the spending.
    President must complete the spending by end of fiscal year, unless otherwise extended by Congress.
    No law was “broken”.
    House Democrats jumped on the “45 days”, Schiff raising the issue to Trump at day 47, and Trump releasing the spending on day 48. The prescribed civil suit process was not initiated.
    No law was “broken”.
    Never attempt to teach a pig to sing; it wastes your time and annoys the pig.

    Robert Heinlein

    Give a man an inch and right away he thinks he's a ruler

    Groucho Marx

    I love mankind…it’s people I can’t stand.

    Linus, from the Peanuts comic

    You cannot have liberty without morality and morality without faith

    Alexis de Torqueville

    Those who fail to learn from the past are condemned to repeat it.
    Those who learn from the past are condemned to watch everybody else repeat it

    A Zero Hedge comment

  30. #26
    Quote Originally Posted by Anti Globalist View Post
    I want to withhold all foreign aid as we shouldn't be giving money to other countries in the first place.
    Sorry buddy, but the congress needs to be getting kickbacks somehow. Their salaries are laughable. Do you have a better solution?

  31. #27
    Quote Originally Posted by Swordsmyth View Post
    The law in question: https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/t.../subchapter-II
    President may delay spending, giving Congress up to 45 days to rescind the legislation.
    The report states

    There is no assertion or other indication here that OMB intended to propose a rescission. Not only did OMB not submit a special message with such a proposal,
    the footnotes in the apportionment schedules, by their very terms, established dates for the release of amounts withheld. The only other authority, then, for withholding
    amounts would have been a deferral.

    The ICA authorizes the deferral of budget authority in a limited range of circumstances: to provide for contingencies; to achieve savings made possible by or
    through changes in requirements or greater efficiency of operations; or as specifically provided by law. 2 U.S.C. § 684(b). No officer or employee of the
    United States may defer budget authority for any other purpose. Id.

    Here, OMB did not identify—in either the apportionment schedules themselves or in its response to us—any contingencies as recognized by the ICA, savings or
    efficiencies that would result from a withholding, or any law specifically authorizing the withholding. Instead, the footnote in the apportionment schedules described the
    withholding as necessary “to determine the best use of such funds.” See OMB Response, at 2; Attachment. In its response to us, OMB described the withholding
    as necessary to ensure that the funds were not spent “in a manner that could conflict with the President’s foreign policy.” OMB Response, at 9.

    The ICA does not permit deferrals for policy reasons.
    We have long had death and taxes as the two standards of inevitability. But there are those who believe that death is the preferable of the two. "At least," as one man said, "there's one advantage about death; it doesn't get worse every time Congress meets."
    Erwin N. Griswold

    Taxes: Of life's two certainties, the only one for which you can get an automatic extension.
    Anonymous

  32. #28
    Quote Originally Posted by Sonny Tufts View Post
    The report states
    A “BRIEF PAUSE” IS NOT WITHHOLDING NOR DEFERRAL

    The GAO accuses the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) of violating the Budget Control and Impoundment Act. Specifically, GAO says that the Trump Administration violated the terms of a deferral under 2 U.S. Code.§ 684.Proposed deferrals of budget authority.
    President Trump is accused of “withholding” funds appropriated by Congress as a gift to Ukraine for 58 days. The Budget Control and Impoundment Act regulates some of the federal budgeting process.
    Now mind you the Congress has not complied with the federal budgeting process for years. When it comes to violating the Budget Control Act, the Congress is in a stupor in a heroin den while Trump is accused of jay-walking.
    The Act (among many other things) allows the Administration to cancel (rescind) a federal appropriation or to defer an expenditure. So the President does have the power to rescind or defer. But the Act does requires that the President notify Congress under 2 U.S. Code § 684 if the Administration proposes to (1) rescind an appropriation or (2) defer the spending of federal appropriations.
    The GAO alleges that Trump’s OMB deferred our gift to Ukraine but didn’t notify Congress. The GAO also alleges that the OMB did not have a permissible reason for a deferral. However, the GAO also whines a lot about wanting more information. So the GAO admits (if you really read between the lines) that they don’t actually know what they are claiming. They are going with the information they have, which they admit is not enough.
    A “BRIEF PAUSE” IS NOT WITHHOLDING NOR DEFERRAL

    One crucial error is found on page 3 of the GAO “Decision” (of 8):
    On July 25, 2019, OMB issued the first of nine apportionment schedules with footnotes withholding USAI funds from obligation. OMB Response, 1–2. This footnote read:
    “Amounts apportioned, but not yet obligated as of the date of this reapportionment, for the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative (Initiative) are not available for obligation until August 5, 2019, to allow for an interagency process to determine the best use of such funds. Based on OMB’s communication with DOD on July 25, 2019, OMB understands from the Department that this brief pause in obligations will not preclude DOD’s timely execution of the final policy direction. DOD may continue its planning and casework for the Initiative during this period.”
    But a “brief pause” does not qualify as a deferral so as to come within the requirements of 2 U.S. Code § 684. A brief pause from when? There was no deadline or expected date for disbursement.




    BRIEF PAUSE IS NOT DENIAL

    The GAO gives its argument away. The OMB announced a “brief pause.” But that phrase clearly is not expressing any intention to deny disbursement of the funds. If that needed to be any more clear, the OMB also said that this “will not preclude DOD’s timely execution of the final policy direction.” And the OMB also said: “DOD may continue its planning and casework for the Initiative during this period.”
    The “brief pause” was clearly not a decision that the funds would not be released. This “brief pause” was simply We are working on it. Don’t rush us. Give us a moment. Hang on a sec.” And this language was not secret. It was widely available throughout our government.
    Therefore, merely taking some extra time to get it right is not a “deferral.” Because the OMB and Administration never arrived at a decision there was no deferral. “We’re thinking about it” is not a decision. A deferral is an intentional act. “We are thinking about it” or “We are working on it” is not a decision to refuse spending funds.



    A DEFERRAL IMPLIES A DECISION—NOT PROCESSING DELAYS

    A “deferral” is insufficiently defined in 2 U.S. Code § 682 through 688. But deferral implies an intentional decision. The definition must be read in context of what the law-makers understood about the budgeting and federal funds process. Congress understood that:

    • Federal funds are never spent the day that Congress votes.
    • There is no deadline for the spending of federal appropriations unless explicitly specified.
    • There are dozens sometimes hundreds of steps required by the bureaucracy from the time that Congress votes and the President signs a spending bill until the money actually goes out the door. That’s the norm.
    • There can be many months or years before money is actually sent to the recipient, sometimes in installments.
    • The processing time by the bureaucracy is not a standard or known length of time. There is no expectation that money will go out the door at any particular time. Just because Congress appropriated funds doesn’t create any expectation for when money will get distributed (unless Congress adds a deadline).
    • Deferral does not mean just the processing time within the bureaucracy
    • Deferral is an intentional act—not we are working on it, gives us a moment.

    CONGRESS RESCINDED THE APPROPRIATION:

    Then GAO gives away its argument again. Incredibly, the GAO “Decision” reveals that Congress actually rescinded the appropriation in question.
    OMB removed the footnote from the apportionment for the USAI funds on September 12, 2019. OMB Response, at 2. Prior to their expiration, Congress then rescinded and reappropriated the funds. Continuing Appropriations Act, 2020, Pub. L. No. 116-59, div. A, § 124(b), 133 Stat. 1093, 1098 (Sept. 27, 2019).
    Because the Ukraine appropriation was rescinded by Congress —legally what happened earlier is largely moot. This undermines the accusations.

    More at: https://canadafreepress.com/article/...-gets-it-wrong
    Never attempt to teach a pig to sing; it wastes your time and annoys the pig.

    Robert Heinlein

    Give a man an inch and right away he thinks he's a ruler

    Groucho Marx

    I love mankind…it’s people I can’t stand.

    Linus, from the Peanuts comic

    You cannot have liberty without morality and morality without faith

    Alexis de Torqueville

    Those who fail to learn from the past are condemned to repeat it.
    Those who learn from the past are condemned to watch everybody else repeat it

    A Zero Hedge comment

  33. #29
    Stunning.

    Also both GAO and GOA turning against well funded GOPA wing leadership is unprecedented and could be pretty bad news for Deep Neocons (right wing).

  34. #30
    Quote Originally Posted by Swordsmyth View Post
    One crucial error is found on page 3 of the GAO “Decision” (of 8):
    [INDENT]On July 25, 2019, OMB issued the first of nine apportionment schedules with footnotes withholding USAI funds from obligation. OMB Response, 1–2. This footnote read:

    “Amounts apportioned, but not yet obligated as of the date of this reapportionment, for the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative (Initiative) are not available for obligation until August 5, 2019, to allow for an interagency process to determine the best use of such funds. Based on OMB’s communication with DOD on July 25, 2019, OMB understands from the Department that this brief pause in obligations will not preclude DOD’s timely execution of the final policy direction. DOD may continue its planning and casework for the Initiative during this period.”
    But this brief pause referred only to the period July 25-August 5. In fact, the "brief pause" ended up being 58 days, which is hardly brief.


    Quote Originally Posted by Swordsmyth View Post
    the OMB also said that this “will not preclude DOD’s timely execution of the final policy direction.” And the OMB also said: “DOD may continue its planning and casework for the Initiative during this period.”
    This clause was omitted from the last 6 GAO notices, suggesting that additional delay might affect DOD's execution of expenditure plans that had already been determined and communicated to Congress.

    Quote Originally Posted by Swordsmyth View Post
    A “deferral” is insufficiently defined in 2 U.S. Code § 682 through 688.
    Not really. 2 USC 682 includes in the definition of deferral "withholding or delaying the obligation or expenditure of budget authority (whether by establishing reserves or otherwise) provided for projects or activities".

    Quote Originally Posted by Swordsmyth View Post
    Deferral is an intentional act—not we are working on it, gives us a moment.
    Except that what OMB said it was working on was to ensure that the funds were not spent “in a manner that could conflict with the President’s foreign policy", something the GAO claimed is impermissible.

    It may be that this is just a pissing contest between OMB and GAO and that such differences have occurred in the past. But given the fact that the Administration has zero credibiity, one has to take OMB's claims with a lot of salt.
    We have long had death and taxes as the two standards of inevitability. But there are those who believe that death is the preferable of the two. "At least," as one man said, "there's one advantage about death; it doesn't get worse every time Congress meets."
    Erwin N. Griswold

    Taxes: Of life's two certainties, the only one for which you can get an automatic extension.
    Anonymous

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