GAO Found Obama Admin Violated Federal Law Seven Times
Government Accountability Office made several findings that never led to impeachment
During former President Barack Obama's time in office, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) found his administration violated federal law seven times, yet the cases never led to his impeachment.
Despite this, Democrats and the liberal media celebrated Thursday when the GAO released a legal opinion that the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) broke the law by withholding US military aid to Ukraine — the issue at the heart of President Donald Trump's impeachment trial.
According to the GAO's legal opinion, the Trump Administration violated the Impoundment Control Act by withholding the congressionally appropriated aid last summer.
The administration did not have the right to hold back the money - $214 million which was allocated to the Department of Defense for security assistance - just because it disagreed with its allocation because it was appropriated by Congress, the opinion from the nonpartisan government watchdog said.
"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]," the statement declared.
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
The OMB made clear Thursday, however, that it disagreed with the GAO report.
“We disagree with GAO's opinion," OMB spokesperson Rachel Semmel said.
"OMB uses its apportionment authority to ensure taxpayer dollars are properly spent consistent with the President's priorities and with the law."
Further, a senior administration official said to Fox News that they believed the GAO was trying to insert itself into impeachment at a time when media attention on the matter is high.
"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.”
The GAO decision, which was requested by Democrat Sen. Chris van Hollen (D-MD), disagreed with OMB, concluding that the delay had been for “policy reasons,” not “programmatic delay.”
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) cited the decision in her morning press conference.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) likewise celebrated the GAO decision as a vindication of the House impeachment.
Although the GAO works for Congress, it is not a fact-finder in impeachment cases.
Moreover, it is not even clear that the Impoundment Control Act is constitutional.
Nevertheless, if a mere GAO finding is sufficient to justify impeachment, then Obama ought to have been impeached at least seven times over, according to Breitbart.
In each of the following cases, the GAO found that the Obama administration had violated federal law:
- The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and United States Secret Service (USSS) were found to have violated section 503 of the Consolidated Security, Disaster Assistance, and Continuing Appropriations Act, and the Antideficiency Act, in 2009 after the Secret Service reported that it had overspent on candidate protection in 2008 by $5,100,000, and used money from another program to cover the shortfall. DHS failed to notify Congress 15 days in advance of the “reprogramming.”
- The Department of the Treasury was found to have violated the Antideficiency Act in 2014 when it used the voluntary services of four individuals. “Treasury did not appoint any of the individuals to federal employment, nor did any individual qualify as a student who may, under certain circumstances, perform voluntary service,” the GAO found, adding that there was no emergency that might have justified using the individuals to perform several months of work without receiving pay.
- The Department of Defense was found to have violated the Department of Defense Appropriations Act of 2014 and the Antideficiency Act in the infamous Bowe Bergdahl swap, when President Barack Obama traded five high-level Taliban detainees for a U.S. Army deserter. The administration transferred the five Taliban from Guantanamo Bay without notifying relevant congressional committees 30 days in advance, as required by law. Republicans complained; Democrats were silent.
- The Department of Housing and Urban Development was found to have violated the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Act, the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, and the Antideficiency Act in 2014 when the deputy secretary of the department sent an email to “friends and colleagues” asking them to lobby the Senate in favor of a bill appropriating money to the department, and against amendments offered by Republican Senators.
- The Environmental Protection Agency was found to have violated “publicity or propaganda and anti-lobbying provisions” in the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Act and the Department of the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act in 2015 by using some of the department’s social media accounts in rule-making for the “Waters of the United States” (WOTUS) regulations (which have since been repealed under the Trump administration).
- Two officials in the Department of Housing and Urban Development were found in 2016 to have violated Section 713 of the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Act by attempting to prevent a regional director within the agency from being interviewed by the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. (Notably, the GAO reversed its earlier decision that the department’s general counsel had not violated the law once it was presented with more evidence.)
- The Federal Maritime Commission was found to have violated Section 711 of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, as well as the Antideficiency Act, in 2016 when it failed to notify the relevant Senate and House committees that it had spent more than $5,000 to furnish and redecorate the office of its former director in 2010. (The total amount spent was $12,084 over three years, as noted by the GAO in a footnote reference to an inspector general’s report on the excessive expenditures.)
Needless to say, Obama was never impeached.