- The Washington Times - Friday, January 17, 2020

President Trump said Friday the Government Accountability Office, which found that he broke the law by withholding military aid from Ukraine after Congress approved it, is part of Washington’s “swamp.”

“They do what the House asks. The Swamp!” the president tweeted of the watchdog arm of Congress.

The GAO said Thursday that Mr. Trump’s decision last summer to withhold $391 million for Ukraine amounted to an “impoundment” of money because of a policy dispute, which is not an acceptable reason under the law to block money after Congress had voted to approve it and Mr. Trump signed it into law.

“The [Impoundment Control Act] does not permit deferrals for policy reasons,” GAO General Counsel Thomas H. Armstrong wrote.

The report was sought by Sen. Chris Van Hollen, Maryland Democrat.

In criticizing the GAO’s report, Mr. Trump cited the opinion of Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz, who disagreed with the watchdog’s findings on Fox News.

“The GOA got it exactly backwards. Here’s what they said. The law does not permit the president to substitute his own policy priorities to those Congress has enacted into law. It’s exactly the opposite,” Mr. Dershowitz said. “The Constitution does not allow Congress to substitute its own priorities for the foreign policies of the president.”

House Democrats impeached Mr. Trump for using the military aid as leverage to pressure Ukraine’s president to announce a corruption investigation of Democratic presidential candidate Joseph R. Biden. No investigation was announced, and Mr. Trump eventually released the aid after his withholding the money became public knowledge.

With his impeachment trial starting in the Senate, Mr. Trump insisted again on Thursday that he did nothing wrong.

“You have now the Ukrainian president and the foreign minister of Ukraine saying there was nothing done wrong,” Mr. Trump told reporters. “In fact, they said there was absolutely no pressure whatsoever. Everything was perfect. And they impeach. It’s totally partisan.”

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