A federal watchdog concluded that President Trump broke the law when he froze assistance funds for Ukraine last year, according to a report unveiled on Thursday.
The Office of Management and Budget blocked the Defense Department from spending money designated by Congress on July 25, “pending a policy decision,” according to OMB General Counsel Mark Paoletta. That hold was lifted on Sept. 12.
But a 1974 law that governs budget procedure within the government “does not permit OMB to withhold funds for policy reasons,” said Thomas Armstrong, general counsel for the watchdog Government Accountability Office.
The law further designates the ways in which Congress has the power of the purse. Under the Impoundment Control Act, it is illegal for OMB to withhold money that has been appropriated by Congress and signed into law.
If the White House wants to delay or deny funds, it must first alert Congress.
Documents and testimony released during and after House impeachment hearings revealed some administration officials had raised concerns that the Ukraine hold might have violated the law known as the Impoundment Control Act.