New Budget Office Memo Shows Foreign Aid Delay to Ukraine Was Routine

A new legal memo from the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) released Wednesday shows that the Trump administration’s decision to temporarily hold back foreign aid to Ukraine was a “routine” practice.

The memo further indicated that the call to withhold the aid was not some political ploy to affect or block congressional spending.

Routine Procedure

“The office first began discussing the aid on June 19, the day President Trump learned of the aid from an article in the Washington Examiner and questioned the wisdom of the spending,” reported the Washington Post. “That move sent aides scrambling, according to a senior administration official who spoke on the condition of anonymity to share internal conversations.”

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“The Office of Management and Budget extended the temporary hold on the aid eight times in August and September, the last time being Sept. 10,” the Post added. “Almost immediately after that hold, the money was released, according to the new memo, which was reviewed by The Washington Post.”

Mark Paoletta, the OMB’s general counsel,  issued the memo as a response to a request about the Ukraine aid situation from the U.S. Government Accountability Office.

Paoletta wrote: “For decades, OMB has routinely used its apportionment authority to prevent funds from being used. Often, in managing appropriations, OMB must briefly pause an agency’s legal ability to spend those funds for a number of reasons, including to ensure that the funds are being spent efficiently, that they are being spent in accordance with statutory directives, or to assess how or whether funds should be used for a particular activity.”

The memo reportedly stated that the aid was paused due to an administration directive “pending a policy decision.” In mid-June, there would be discussions about how to proceed with the aid.

The Post added, “The memo says that ‘at no point during the pause’ did Defense Department attorneys tell OMB the Ukrainian funding would be prevented from being spent before the end of the year.”

This newly released legal memo is of particular importance as Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee weigh introducing articles of impeachment against President Trump.

Do Democrats Have Egg On Their Face?

Politico reporter John Bresnahan noted that while Democrats were appealing to American’s feelings during the impeachment inquiry, Republicans hammered home the message that Democrats have never gotten over the 2016 election and are just stretching to find any reason possible to impeach Trump.

“Democrats are making very personal statements during impeachment hearings. They talk about being immigrants, or the child of immigrants, or being a minority, and how Trump allegedly improper behavior impacts other Americans like them. It’s an interesting tactic,” Bresnahan wrote. “Republicans repeatedly pound this message – Democrats have never acknowledged Trump’s victory in 2016 and have searched repeatedly for a reason to impeach Trump.”

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Democrats originally kicked off their impeachment inquiry over a July 25 phone call President Trump had with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky for allegedly engaging in a quid pro quo.

But does this legal memo rebuff that claim?

And if so, do Democrats look even more ridiculous than they did before?

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