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White House budget office defends Ukraine aid delay as legal and routine in new memo

Democrats are still focusing on the motive

Mark Wilson/Getty Images

The White House Office of Management and Budget defended the delay in Ukraine military aid as both routine and legal, denying Democratic allegations that it was an irregular abuse of power by President Donald Trump, according to the Washington Post.

The budget office detailed the reasons for the aid delay in a memo that was a response to an inquiry by the Government Accountability Office. The temporary withholding of the aid, and the reasons for it, are central questions in the House impeachment inquiry.

In the memo, OMB general counsel Mark Paoletta said the aid was initially paused in mid-June after the president became aware of it via a media report and, according to the Post, "questioned the wisdom of the spending."

The aid delay was extended eight times throughout August and September before being released on Sept. 11 at the urging of Vice President Mike Pence and Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.). These delays, Paoletta wrote, were normal and fully within the authority of the White House.

"For decades, OMB has routinely used its apportionment authority to prevent funds from being used," Paoletta wrote in the memo. "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."

Trump and his allies have maintained that they had concerns over corruption in Ukraine, and whether aid sent to the nation would be used properly. The president also expressed displeasure with the level of contribution to Ukraine from European countries.

Democrats' impeachment efforts have sought to emphasize the potential national security consequences of withholding the aid and to portray Trump's motives as political. They allege that he withheld the aid in order to pressure Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelensky to publicly announce investigations into potential Ukrainian election interference in the 2016 U.S. election, and into Joe Biden's son, Hunter, and his appointment to the board of a Ukrainian energy company.

(H/T: The Daily Wire)

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