White House Shifted Authority Over Ukraine Aid Amid Legal Concerns

HayJenn

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Jul 2014
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The White House gave a politically appointed official the authority to keep aid to Ukraine on hold after career budget staff members questioned the legality of delaying the funds, according to people familiar with the matter, a shift that House Democrats are probing in their impeachment inquiry. Trump’s order to freeze nearly $400 million in aid to Ukraine in mid-July is at the center of House Democratic efforts to investigate allegations that Mr. Trump used U.S. foreign policy powers to benefit himself politically. The hold came days before Mr. Trump’s request, on a July 25 call, that the Ukrainian president work with Rudy Giuliani and Attorney General William Barr to conduct investigations into former Vice President Joe Biden, a Democratic presidential hopeful.

The president has the authority to delay the release of money in certain instances, according to the Congressional Research Service, a nonpartisan research agency, including if there has been an unexpected change in circumstances for the program. But without being provided explanation or justification about why the administration was delaying the aid, some career officials at the Office of Management and Budget became worried they didn’t have the legal authority to hold up the funds, according to the people familiar.

While career civil servants put an initial hold on the aid, Michael Duffey, associate director of national security programs in OMB, was given the authority for continuing to keep the aid on hold after the career staff began raising their concerns to political officials at OMB, according to the people familiar with the matter. Mr. Duffey also began overseeing the process for approving and releasing funds, called apportionment, for other foreign aid and defense accounts, according to a public document indicating the change.

A political official like Mr. Duffey signing off on apportionments is unusual, according to several former OMB officials. Career staff below the political level at OMB with years, and sometimes decades, of technical knowledge of the funding process have historically overseen the routine process, according to the former officials. Career staff remains involved in preparing the apportionments, while Mr. Duffey now reviews and signs off on them, according to some of the people. “



Gee, I wonder who gave Mr. Duffy the "authority" to hold up legal funds??

More corruption.
 
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