Documents obtained by the House Budget Committee related to the holdup of foreign aid to Ukraine earlier this year shows that the White House's budget office formally took actions to freeze the aid on the same day as President Donald Trump's July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, CNN reported Tuesday.
Citing a committee summary of White House documents, the story said — while a hold on the aid had been announced to national security officials a full week prior to the call — that the Office of Management and Budget's first official action to temporarily halt aid came on the evening of July 25, hours after the two world leaders spoke on the phone.
The withholding letter — which was among documents handed over to Congress — was signed by a career OMB official. The funding was eventually released Sept. 11.
Trump's motives for holding up the foreign aid are central to the current impeachment investigation going on in Congress. The president and his allies have claimed that the aid was temporarily withheld in order to ensure that the country's recently elected government was serious about tackling the country's long history of corruption. His opponents have characterized the hold as an effort to pressure a foreign government to announce or conduct investigations that would politically benefit the president in the 2020 presidential election.
Regarding the OMB documents, House Budget Chairman John Yarmuth (D-Ky.) and Appropriations Chairwoman Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) criticized what they called "a pattern of abuse" from the office.
"Although the committees only received a partial production of the requested materials, OMB's responses and documentation to date confirm that the apportionment process has been misused to withhold Congressionally enacted appropriations," the two Democrats said, according to a Politico story Tuesday.
In a statement to Blaze Media, an OMB spokesperson said that "this is the same old spin from Democrats" and that the office "has and will continue to use its apportionment authority to ensure taxpayer dollars are properly spent consistent with the President's priorities and with the law."
The spokesperson added, "Given Congress' constant penchant to tell agencies they are not allowed to spend appropriated money and hold money for months on end, in scores of examples, we find it laughable that Congress is taking issue with the [administration's] actions."