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  • U.S. President Donald Trump delivers a statement about Iran flanked by U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper, Army Chief of Staff General James McConville and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Army General Mark Milley in the Grand Foyer at the White House in Washington, U.S., January 8, 2020.

    U.S. President Donald Trump delivers a statement about Iran flanked by U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper, Army Chief of Staff General James McConville and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Army General Mark Milley in the Grand Foyer at the White House in Washington, U.S., January 8, 2020. | Photo: Reuters

Published 16 January 2020

“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 U.S. congressional watchdog, the Government Accountability Office (GAO), announced on Thursday that the White House budget office violated the nation's law when it decided to withhold military aid to Ukraine this past Summer. 

According to the GAO report, U.S. President Donald Trump had no right to put the congressionally approved aid on hold, as this was a violation of American law. 

“Faithful execution of the law does not permit the President to substitute his own policy priorities for those that Congress has enacted into law. OMB withheld funds for a policy reason, which is not permitted under the Impoundment Control Act (ICA),” the U.S. Government Accountability Office said, referring to the Office of Management and Budget. “The withholding was not a programmatic delay. Therefore, we conclude that OMB violated the ICA.”

Furthermore, the GAO admitted that it issued its decision on the legality of freezing the aid despite the Trump administration not having provided information that the watchdog needed to properly review the White House's move.

The GAO's findings and report will force the Trump administration to release the frozen funds to Ukraine, despite the ongoing impeeachment trial against the U.S. President.

The senator who requested the GAO investigation, Chris Van Hollen (D), has praised it as a major victory for those trying to prove Trump's misconduct as president.

"This bombshell legal opinion from the independent Government Accountability Office demonstrates, without a doubt, that the Trump administration illegally withheld security assistance from Ukraine", Van Hollen said.

Trump has yet to comment on this latest report; however, he has previously stated that these investigations are a witch hunt, adding that he has done nothing wrong since taking the presidency. 

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