GAO Rules Admin Broke the Law

Via WaPo: White House hold on Ukraine aid violated federal law, congressional watchdog says

The Government Accountability Office, a nonpartisan agency that reports to Congress, found the Trump administration violated a law that governs how the White House disburses money approved by Congress.

The GAO decision comes as the Senate prepares for the impeachment trial of President Trump, a process set to begin Thursday.

“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 decision states. “OMB withheld funds for a policy reason, which is not permitted under the Impoundment Control Act.”

Just another day in paradise.

FILED UNDER: Donald Trump, Impeachment, US Politics
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. DrDaveT says:

    Yeah, but while it was literally a crime, it wasn’t seriously a crime…

    24
  2. Kathy says:

    I’m convinced by now no crime Dennison ever commits would merit even a glance from his supporters and apologists. This leaves a tiny slice of those who still consider themselves Republicans who might be repelled by his criminal actions.

    Robert Heinlein once quipped that while there may not be a candidate worth voting for, there surely is one worth voting against.

    So the hope is that enough Republicans will be repulsed enough by Trump, they won’t feel the duty to vote against Warren, Biden, Buttigieg, or Sanders.

    That said, IMO, the next administration should make it a priority to investigate Trump, and much of his cabinet and associates, criminally and pursue charges where warranted by law.

    20
  3. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    But no laws were broken. I know, because President Trump told me. And he is a straight shooter.

    8
  4. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    But her emails!!!

    11
  5. Gustopher says:

    With all those laws on the books, how can they not break a few?

    It’s gotten to the point where innocent people are innocently getting tripped up in broadly written laws that are rarely prosecuted except for political and vindictive purposes. Did you know that white men are prosecuted as serial killers at a much higher rate than people from other races? Thank the SJWs for that. It’s so hard to be a white man.

    And, even if you don’t commit a crime, that doesn’t stop those SJW prosecutors from going after people anyway. Just look at the Buick LaCrosse case.

    15
  6. Joe says:

    “OMB’s assertions have no basis in law,” the GAO argues, referring to the White House Office of Management and Budget.

    If I had a nickel for every authoritative body that has reached this conclusion about this administration’s legal positions, . . .

    More seriously, this is the pattern with this administration: assert baseless and self-serving interpretations of the Constitution and statutes and then plead the absolute right to hold those positions at the very least until the Supreme Court has the opportunity to reject them. Given the time inherent in those legal challenges, it is tantamount to having no Constitution or laws at all.

    As an ethical matter, lawyers can assert and advocate for any good faith or colorable interpretation of a law and seek a court opinion evaluating that position. I personally (and professionally) think the administration crosses this line regularly just to run out the clocks in the courts. If they ever get a decision on the substance from the Supreme Court, we will be in other uncharted territory.

    9
  7. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Kathy: Alas, our system allows for the possibility of voting against both Trump and whoever the Democrats choose. I myself practiced voting against both for about 20 or 30 years until I realized that because I lived in a reliably blue state and that the number of people who wanted change (as opposed to merely wanting to want change) was so small that my vote really didn’t count at all and stopped using it.

    Heinlein’s quip is cute but is also only meaningful in the case of having only one candidate worth voting against. Still better to have a system where candidates are worth voting for.

    5
  8. JohnMcC says:

    Well, that’s all well enough. But did you know that Bernie told a lie about Warren. Or she told a lie about him. Do you expect me to get upset about some out of control President when we have THIS to worry about?

    And did you know that Biden voted to invade Iraq? Eighteen years ago, sure. But the HORROR!

    I despair for our republic.

    6
  9. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    Illegal, kept secret, and done in his own self interest = impeachable offense.

    1
  10. gVOR08 says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl: I keep coming back to Trump and his administration being a clown act. That’s not illegal, but it seems like it should be sufficient grounds for impeachment and removal.

    If Trump were a corporate CEO, the board of directors would have gotten rid of him a couple years ago.

    7
  11. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @gVOR08:

    If Trump were a corporate CEO, the board of directors would have gotten rid of him a couple years ago.

    I’ve tried to get a straight answer from Trumpie acquaintances on this for 3 years: If some morbidly obese guy, with a fake orange tan and a shitty comb-over, walked into this bar and started lying about everything under the sun, grabbed your wives pussies, and insulted everyone including your handicapped friends…and then you found out he had stiffed everyone in town that had ever done any work for him…you’d run him out of here on his ear. But you guys have pledged undying loyalty to Trump. Why?
    Have never gotten a real answer.

    13
  12. dmichael says:

    A couple of posts here seem to be sarcasm. It would help (at least me) to note explicitly that they are sarcasm so I don’t waste my time responding as if they weren’t. As to “Biden voted to invade Iraq…Eighteen years ago,” I take the actions of public figures to support the initiation of combat where our service men and women are sent to dangerous places to kill people to be the most serious of public acts. To do so when the justification was false and not as a last resort shows a monumental failure of judgment, something many Democrats need to be reminded of.

    2
  13. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl: That’s because your hypothetical is unrealistic. We don’t run people out of town for lying–even serious and continuous lying, there are lots of women he hasn’t even ever met, and he’s no more offensive than you are. Why bother addressing the rantings of a deranged anti-Trumper. Do we address the rantings of Paul L, JKB, and Guarner…

    Oh wait… never mind, carry on.

  14. Paul L. says:

    WhatAboutism.
    “Obama Broke The Law In Bergdahl Release Deal, GAO Report Says.”
    How was the scandal free most transparent in history Obama administration punished?

    1
  15. gVOR08 says:

    @dmichael: Yes. Poe’s law. Satire is hard to detect online. We don’t always read the handle of the writer. And believe it or not, we may not always remember and fully take into account a particular commenters quirks and proclivities. And there may be casual readers and lurkers who don’t know us very well. A winky face or /s is helpful.

    As to not always reading the handle, I read a piece at Balloon Juice this morning that talked about being represented in the Senate by two Republican shit stains and immediately thought, correctly, it must be Betty Cracker, my fellow Floridian.

  16. Andrew says:

    @Paul L.:

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/113th_United_States_Congress

    Republicans had the majority in the House.
    Ask them.

    15
  17. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @Paul L.:
    Tell me, Paul…how did the Bergdahl release benefit Obama, personally?
    It happened during his second term, so it wasn’t about damaging his political opponent for his own gain, as is the case with Trump trying to manufacture dirt on Biden.
    The Bergdahl release was done in plain site…there was no cover up; it wasn’t hidden on secret servers until a whistle-blower exposed it.
    So I don’t understand the parallel?
    When you find a case where Obama bribed a foreign government, committed wire-fraud, then obstructed Congress…or even something remotely similar…get back to us.
    In the meantime you are only proving that you are not smart.

    20
  18. @Daryl and his brother Darryl:

    To be fair, he did announce that he was engaging in whataboutism.

    1
  19. Paul L. says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    To be fair, he did announce that he was engaging in whataboutism.

    Charges of “Whataboutism”: A Pet Peeve of Mine

    Some have collectively decided to rename “rooting out hypocrisy and naked partisanship” as “whataboutism.”

    The walls are closing in.
    This is the beginning of the end for Trump.
    If the Republicans ever regain the House after BLUEWAVE 2020, I look forward to the Republicans impeaching Obama for obstruction of congress for ATF Fast and Furious and IRS targeting of Tea party groups which according to Nancy Pelosi will forever be a stain for all time.

    “… As you know I referenced temporal markers that our founders and our poets and others have used over time to place us in time, to emphasize the importance of time, because everything is about time.”

    When you find a case where Obama bribed a foreign government, committed wire-fraud, then obstructed Congress…or even something remotely similar…get back to us.
    In the meantime you are only proving that you are not smart.

    Secret Airlift of $1.7 billion in cash and gold to Iran.

  20. @Paul L.: You literally engaged in whataboutism. Instead of defending the Trump administration or starting why the GAO was wrong, you said, hey, what about this Obama thing?

    It is a diversion (and not even an especially good one), not an argument.

    Learn to be on topic, please. It really isn’t that hard.

    24
  21. CSK says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl:

    They’d tell you that Trump isn’t obese, orange, nor a serial pussy-grabber and liar, con artist, cheater, and extortionist. And that he has a fine, full head of golden hair.

    2
  22. Paul L. says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    defending the Trump administration or starting why the GAO was wrong,

    The GAO says withholding funds was illegal. In the past, that hasn’t resulted in much. …
    I pointed out WhatAboutism. To show how it would be dismissed and handwaved away.

    1
  23. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Paul L.:

    Secret Airlift of $1.7 billion in cash and gold to Iran

    It wasn’t in secret. Maybe you weren’t reading newspapers yet.

    12
  24. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @Paul L.:

    Secret Airlift of $1.7 billion in cash and gold to Iran.

    It wasn’t a secret. It was spelled out in the JCPOA. Iran had paid America for military equipment in 1979, but then the Iranian revolution came and the hardware was never delivered. The money was in settlement of that.
    This is the first I’ve ever heard of gold coming from the US. Maybe it came from other countries who had to give sanctions relief? Please provide a link.

    11
  25. Mikey says:

    @Paul L.:

    Secret Airlift of $1.7 billion in cash and gold to Iran.

    Fatuous bullshit.

    9
  26. @Paul L.:

    I pointed out WhatAboutism. To show how it would be dismissed and handwaved away.

    I don’t think you understand the term or how to deploy it.

    Worse, you are simply not making arguments nor even scoring rhetorical points. Your comments read like barely held together nonsense as if you are stitching disparate talking points.

    If you want to be taken seriously, you need to do better.

    13
  27. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @Paul L.:
    @Mikey:

    Secret Airlift of $1.7 billion in cash and gold to Iran.

    So the airlift was not secret. it did not include $1.7B (only $400B was in the airlift) and it did not include gold.
    Essentially that entire sentence is a lie.
    Paul…if you have to lie to make a point…you probably don’t have a valid point to make.

    9
  28. KM says:

    @Steven L. Taylor :

    If you want to be taken seriously, you need to do better.

    He’s not trying to be taken seriously, he’s trying to get you to break out the ban-hammer. Trolls need cred to bolster themselves and getting kicked out of a site is great for the ego. I’ve noticed he’s been particularly bad these last few days, especially since the thread noting Doug and James’ absence and discussing Pearce. Copycats gonna copy….

    3
  29. OzarkHillbilly says:

    .@Daryl and his brother Darryl: Wait a minute, he’s not talking about the airlift everybody knows about, he’s talking about the one that had a layover in a DC pizzeria basement, before it flew to Iran via Kiev. Q told him all about it. We’d know about it too if we didn’t have our heads up the ass of the lame stream media.

    We are such sheeple.

    8
  30. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:
    a DC pizzeria basement
    Oh yeah…the basement of that Pizzaria that doesn’t have a basement. Now I remember…

    1
  31. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @CSK:
    This is likely true.

  32. al Ameda says:

    This does not rise even close to the hypothetical tolerance level of ignoring presidential crime – shooting someone down in broad daylight on Fifth Avenue – so there is no chance that Republican legislators or voters will consider this as anything more than a bureaucratic misunderstanding.

    2
  33. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @al Ameda:

    anything more than a bureaucratic misunderstanding.

    In a vacuum…yup.
    But Trump broke the law (this instance) to hold up taxpayer money in order to bribe a foreign government to fabricate dirt on a personal political opponent, committing wire fraud in the process…all of which constitutes Abuse of Power…and then, for good measure, obstructed the Congressional oversight function.
    So yeah…there is still no chance that Republican legislators or voters will consider this as anything more than a bureaucratic misunderstanding.

    2
  34. Paul L. says:

    Deleted by the moderator.

  35. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @Paul L.:

    Stay on topic.

    I was on topic…we were ridiculing idiots like you.

    1
  36. JohnMcC says:

    @dmichael: I drop back in here a couple of times after I write something on the wall at this address. After that one, I didn’t (until now — let’s be fully explanatory) because I thought every one I wanted to communicate with would recognize sarcasm.

    And I apologize for being unclear. That’s important.

    But I wrack my brain trying to imagine the person who seriously thinks that the adolescent steaming of Bernie Bros and Elizabeth’s adherents is so important…
    Never mind. Maybe there’s the answer: Adolescence.

    As far as VP Biden’s 2002 vote on the Iraq authorization: I personally was sent to VietNam by a Democrat. Damn near died there. Somehow over the next few decades I made it to the ranks of Democrats. Because I grew up. Give it a try.

  37. An Interested Party says:

    To do so when the justification was false and not as a last resort shows a monumental failure of judgment, something many Democrats need to be reminded of.

    Perhaps you would care to offer a legitimate argument as to how Donald Trump is a better president and would remain a better president than Joe Biden would be…

  38. Gustopher says:

    @dmichael:

    A couple of posts here seem to be sarcasm. It would help (at least me) to note explicitly that they are sarcasm so I don’t waste my time responding as if they weren’t.

    My post was entirely serious, but I think you might be onto something about Paul L.

  39. Just Another Ex-Republican says:

    @Gustopher: All I can say is if he’s onto something about Paul L, I highly suggest he gets off it. Might be contagious.

  40. Teve says:

    @Just Another Ex-Republican: Massive untreated crack cocaine abuse isn’t contagious.

  41. @Paul L.: This is getting tiresome. Learn to comment or please find somewhere else to inhabit.

    2
  42. Gustopher says:

    @Paul L.: Genuine question, before you get your ass banned: you care about police abusing their authority, why do you not care about the President abusing his authority?

    If your local police told the civilian review board to pound sand, and claimed absolute immunity, would you be ok with that?

    I just don’t understand how a fear of government overreach is only relevant at the local level. To me, it’s basically the same problem — people who enforce the laws believing and acting as if they are above the law.

    What am I missing?

    6
  43. An Interested Party says:

    Learn to comment or please find somewhere else to inhabit.

    Then he’ll be able to whine like James Pearce about how he got banned here…

    1
  44. Jax says:

    I mean, if we had to trade Paul for Pearce, I would do it. Despite Pearce’s goal-post moving, at least he could spell and didn’t randomly bring up Duke LaCrosse.

    Then again, I thought the Ukraine guy was worth engaging, at first, and look how that turned out. :-/

    2
  45. Teve says:

    Then he’ll be able to whine like James Pearce about how he got banned here…

    That’s a hundred-dollar benefit with a 10-cent fee.

  46. @Jax:

    Then again, I thought the Ukraine guy was worth engaging, at first, and look how that turned out.

    For the record, he wasn’t banned. He just stopped posting.

    3
  47. mattbernius says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    For the record, he wasn’t banned. He just stopped posting.

    Thanks for the clarification on that too. I was wondering because he was so active and then disappeared so quickly.

    @Gustopher:

    you care about police abusing their authority, why do you not care about the President abusing his authority?

    Generally speaking, his issue with the police is simply his expectation/fear that at anytime they are going to kick in his door and take his guns. That last part is especially important. He’s essentially a freeper.

    The guns are key because so long as Trump supports gun rights, Paul will support him. Even if Trump and his AG’s, at the same time, advocates for a more heavily armed police and extension of legal protections on police. He’ll also be happy to look past Kavanaugh’s history of supporting/extending qualified immunity (and deference to police on evidentiary issues) as well. It really has nothing to do with any broader ethical issues around police and prosecutor overreach or abuse of power in general. And because of that, there’s no conflict in his head between either stance.

    So to some degree, all of Paul’s police/prosecutor/qualified immunity preaching is loud virtue signalling. At the end of the day, so long as his right to have guns is maintained, he really doesn’t care about any of that stuff. This is pretty transactional and it’s all about how the state can potentially harm him and just him.

    I’m sure I’m about to get a long response with a ton of whataboutism around Democrats and prosecutors and police. To be clear, neither party is particularly good on these issues. The best I can say about Obama is that at least he and his DoJ attempted some mild police reforms. I’ll also note that I try not to virtue signal about these topics at every possible juncture.

    2
  48. mattbernius says:

    @mattbernius:

    He’ll also be happy to look past Kavanaugh’s history of supporting/extending qualified immunity (and deference to police on evidentiary issues) as well.

    On the other hand, Gorsuch has a record of being a bit more skeptical about police power and the topic of qualified immunity, so on that topic there’s hope for one of Trump’s appointments.

    However I have little hope for most of the federal court justices that the Senate has pushed through. Most are strong law and order types.

    (done with comment hijack – apologies to the hosts)

  49. just nutha says:

    @Gustopher:

    Genuine question, before you get your ass banned: you care about police abusing their authority, why do you not care about the President abusing his authority?

    This is why I don’t believe that he cares about police abuse of authority. It’s just more snark of the Duke Lacrosse/Nifong type switched to a different topic.

    Of course, it’s possible that he’s one of the “fine with authoritarian government as long as it’s my authoritarian” guys, too.

  50. MarkedMan says:

    @mattbernius: Guns may be a nice side benefit but I suspect that to this dude Trumps greatest appeal is aspirational. When it comes to women Trump is a raging misogynist, constantly creepy, and a serial assaulter (and almost certainly a serial rapist). And he gets away with it. That is Paul’s fantasy. Who’s willing to bet on how many restraining orders Paul has had in his lifetime?

    2
  51. mattbernius says:

    @MarkedMan:
    I am repeating things Paul himself has shared in previous posts when he and I have had conversations on this topic.

    Also essentially accusing someone of being a sex predator, stalker, or abuser/threat based on no evidence other than you don’t like thier political views and how they express them is an exceptionally shitty thing to do and frankly well beneath you.

    2
  52. @MarkedMan: This strikes me as unkind and unnecessary.

    I have to agree with @mattbernius‘s assessment.

    All this does, also, is allow people like him to think that his shtick is actually effective since it leads to people personally attacking him rather than dismissing his nonsense.

    2
  53. MarkedMan says:

    @mattbernius: It’s not his political views. It’s his decade long obsession with the Duke Lacrosse case.

    That said, you are right. My comments contribute nothing and there could be other reasons he is obsessed with that case.