Articles of Impeachment, CCP Virus, China, Comptroller General, Congress, coronavirus, COVID 19, Democrats, GAO, Government Accountability Office, House of Representatives, Im-Politic, impeachment, Impoundment Control ct of 1974, Senate, Trump, Ukraine, WHO, World Health Organization, Wuhan virus
I’m actually glad that Congress’ Democrats are accusing the Trump administration of violating the same law in its decision to suspend funding for the World Health Organization (WHO) as it allegedly did in halting military aid to Ukraine – which of course was a central impeachment charge.
The point here is not to debate the merits of the WHO action (for the record, I’m strongly in favor) or of the impeachment effort (for the record, I strongly opposed) but to make clear how transparently partisan and Trump-ly deranged inclusion of the Ukraine aid accusation actually was.
Specifically, the Democrats’ allegation that “President Trump is violating the same spending laws that brought about his impeachment” represents a golden opportunity to point out that, legally speaking, jumping to the conclusion that the Ukraine decision was impeachable arguably violated those spending laws, too.
Let’s say that the way the Ukraine aid disbursement delay was carried out did clash with the terms of the Impoundment Control Act of 1974 – signed into law to prevent Presidents from blocking arbitrarily the actual expenditure of public funds as required in approved legislation. The word “arbitrarily” is important here, because the law has always been flexible enough to authorize such blockages and delays. It simply mandates that these actions to meet certain conditions.
But the law also sets out certain procedures for remedying these situations, and guess what? Quickly turning a claimed violation into an Article of Impeachment isn’t one of them. Or even close.
What’s supposed to happen legally is that an arm of Congress, the Government Accountability Office (GAO), determines whether a violation occurred. (It did.) And then the Comptroller General (the GAO’s head) is supposed to “bring a civil action in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia to require such” funds to be spent.
The case was never brought to court, however. And why not? Because the Democratic-controlled House had already impeached President Trump by that time! In fact, the GAO report didn’t come out until scant hours before the Senate impeachment trial began (on January 16).
The impeachment articles contained other charges of course, but the impoundment law allegation deserves emphasis because it was the only claimed legal violation for which a clear procedure for going forward was specified – in the statute itself.
The House unmistakably ignored that procedure. Meaning maybe we need an impeachment proceeding for the House leaders?