FLASHBACK: Seven Times the GAO Said the Obama Administration Broke Federal Law
A report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released yesterday contained the non-binding opinion that President Trump’s Office of Management and Budget violated the Impoundment Control Act (ICA) by withholding aid to Ukraine. The ICA governs how the White House distributes money approved by Congress. The timing seems almost too perfect, being released right before the Senate trial officially began.
Trump’s opponents rushed to claim the release as the latest “bombshell” to rock his administration. Sen. Chris Van Hollen literally called it a “bombshell,” while failed presidential candidate Even McMullin declared that the “Senate cannot ignore this crime.” They, and everyone else, are wrongly under the impression that this justifies impeachment. If it did, Obama should’ve been impeached seven times over.
As Breitbart’s Joel Pollak reported, there were seven times that the GAO found the Obama administration to have broken the law:
- The Department of Homeland Security 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.)
As we explained yesterday, the impoundment of funds is a measure a great many presidents and public figures have supported, including: Abe Lincoln, Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman, JFK, LBJ, Bill Clinton, the Bushes, John McCain, John Kerry, Al Gore, Pat Buchanan, Jeb Hensarling, Russ Feingold, Joe Lieberman, Judd Gregg, and not least both Paul Ryan… and Barack Obama have all supported the power of the presidency to balance the spending power of Congress.
Remember that the impeachable offense that Democrats used to justify their impeachment circus was an alleged quid pro quo with Ukraine over withheld aid. It’s the intent for withholding aid that the basis of impeachment is over – not the withholding of the funds itself, which is what the GAO took issue with.