GAO: White House violated law by holding back aid for Ukraine

GAO: White House violated law by holding back aid for Ukraine
GAO: White House violated law by holding back aid for Ukraine

Just before the official start of the Senate impeachment trial of President Donald Trump, the Government Accountability Office said Thursday that the White House had broken federal law by withholding over $200 million in military aid for Ukraine, as Democrats said the new findings should be aired before the Senate in coming days.

"Faithful executive of the law does not permit the President to substitute his own policy priorities for those that Congress has enacted into law," wrote Thomas Armstrong, the General Counsel of the GAO.

Democrats immediately latched on to the government watchdog opinion to reinforce their impeachment arguments.

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"This is an important ruling that deserves a thorough hearing in the impeachment trial," said Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) on the floor of the Senate.

"GAO confirmed the President broke the law," said Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer.

"When President Trump froze congressionally approved military aid to Ukraine, he did so in violation of the law and the Constitution," said Sen. Pat Leahy (D-VT).

"The GAO has confirmed what we’ve always known: President Trump abused his power," said Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-ME). "Another fact for the Senate to consider."

"The hold Trump ordered was illegal," said Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA).

The law in question is known as the Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974," which was passed after President Nixon had refused to release money approved by Congress.