Statement On GAO Ruling The Trump Administration Violated The Impoundment Control Act By Withholding Aid to Ukraine

The GAO opinion is forceful and it is unambiguous:  When President Trump froze congressionally appropriated military aid to Ukraine, he did so in violation of the law and the Constitution.  The Constitution grants the power of the purse to Congress, not the President.  Congress chose to provide military assistance to an ally which is literally under attack by Russia, and the law required that aid to be delivered.  But instead of executing the law and standing with our ally, the President withheld the aid to serve his own political interests.  He and his administration went to great lengths to hide his actions from Congress, which violated the Impoundment Control Act.  He used the federal purse strings to advance his own personal agenda.  This decision from an independent, nonpartisan watchdog reaffirms Congress’s power of the purse, and reaffirms that the President is not above the law.

Each senator has sworn an oath to defend the Constitution.  And today we will take yet another oath to do “impartial justice according to the Constitution” in the impeachment trial.  It is the responsibility of the Senate to defend our Constitution’s carefully balanced separation of powers and, in doing so, judge whether President Trump abused his office for personal gain when he withheld Congressionally-appropriated funds from an ally in violation of the Impoundment Control Act.  I take that responsibility seriously.  I urge every Senator to do the same. 

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