The Government Accountability Office dipped their nose into political waters on Thursday and came up looking ridiculous to both sides of the aisle.
They claim the Trump administration broke the law by withholding defense funds to Ukraine. That, of course, is a charge that the Dems have been advancing for months and is the basis for the trial in the Senate.
“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 opinion said. “[The Office of Management and Budget] OMB withheld funds for a policy reason … not a programmatic delay. Therefore, we conclude that the OMB violated the ICA [Impoundment Control Act],” said the GAO.
Here’s their tweet.
Press statement regarding GAO Decision B-331564, Office of Management and Budget—Withholding of Ukraine Security Assistance https://t.co/SxlSeGfy5l
— U.S. GAO (@USGAO) January 16, 2020
But not so fast.
The Office of Management and Budget, named above, was not letting them get away with it.
“We disagree with GAO’s opinion,” said OMB spokeswoman Rachel Semmel. “GAO’s findings are a pretty clear overreach as they attempt to insert themselves into the media’s controversy of the day. Further, GAO has a history of the flip-flops, reversing 40-years of precedent this year on their pocket rescission decision, they were also forced to reverse a legally faulty opinion when they opposed the reimbursement of federal employee travel costs. In their rush to insert themselves in the impeachment narrative, maybe they’ll have to reverse their opinion again.”
This is public spat between staffers in the same administration.
Why was the GAO legal opinion issued today?
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It should be noted that while the GAO’s top position is a president-appointed office, Trump did not appoint the current executive.
The head of the GAO, Gene Dodaro, whose formal title is Comptroller General of the United States, was appointed by President Obama in 2010.
To be fair, who Dodaro was appointed by doesn’t necessarily indicate that political intervention is afoot on his part, but it is certainly a point to consider. That type of behavior would not be much of a surprise given today’s political climate.
The sad non-publicity making DC agency wanted its share of public glory so the time servers there designed this to give the Dems some ammo to use in the Senate trial of the president.
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But their ammo jammed and then misfired, causing DC to break out in schadenfreude.