GOP leader: It was 'rightful' for Trump administration to break the law


House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy defended the Trump administration after a GAO investigation found it broke the law.

During a Thursday press conference, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy attempted to brush aside a GAO investigation that found the Trump administration broke the law by withholding military aid from Ukraine.

"I think it was the rightful thing to do," McCarthy said hours after the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office released a report calling those actions illegal.

McCarthy repeated Trump administration talking points defending holding back the aid out of concerns for corruption, a concern that was debunked by the GAO report itself.

The GAO concluded the Trump administration's hold on Ukrainian military aid violated the Impoundment Control Act.

"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 wrote. "[Office of Management and Budget] withheld funds for a policy reason, which is not permitted."

Further, the GAO report contradicted McCarthy's excuse, concluding the Defense Department certified in May that Ukraine was in compliance with anti-corruption efforts, months before the Trump administration decided to withhold the aid.

"An appropriations act is a law like any other; therefore, unless Congress has enacted a law providing otherwise, the President must take care to ensure that appropriations are prudently obligated during their period of availability," the GAO wrote, adding, "The Constitution grants the President no unilateral authority to withhold funds from obligation."

In December, the House of Representatives impeached Donald Trump for abuse of power for his efforts to pressure Ukraine to investigate his political rivals and for obstructing the impeachment investigation. During an investigation, House members uncovered credible evidence that the Trump administration withheld the aid in order to pressure Ukraine's government to open investigations that would be politically beneficial to Trump's 2020 reelection campaign.

The GAO report provides further evidence that the Trump administration engaged in illegal activities during the alleged attempt to pressure the Ukrainian government.

The Senate will soon hold a trial to determine whether or not to remove Trump from office. Republicans hold a 53-47 majority, and the Constitution requires that two-thirds of senators, 67 of the 100, would be needed to remove him from office.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.