Four Observations Concerning the GAO Decision

|The Volokh Conspiracy |

Yesterday, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a decision concerning the withholding of Ukraine security assistance. I had four tentative observations, which I summarized in a Tweet thread.

First, who does GAO conclude violated the Impoundment Control Act (ICA) with respect to then failure to timely disburse the full funds to Ukraine? Answer: The Office of Management and Budget (OMB). The decision does not conclude that President Trump violated the ICA with respect to the withholding of funds. GAO did not, and indeed could not, find that President Trump personally violated the ICA with respect to withholding the funds. Seth Barrett Tillman and I offered a similar observation on Lawfare last month. We wrote that only those charged with executing the ICA could violate that statute, not President Trump:

If Trump's underlings delayed making a timely transfer of funds to Ukraine, as required by the relevant appropriations act, then it is they who are legally responsible (though the president always bears political responsibility for the actions of all his subordinates in the executive branch).

GAO does discuss 2 U.S.C. § 684. This statute imposes a duty on the President to notify Congress in certain circumstances. GAO suggests that the notification requirements of Section 684 were met, but not complied with by President Trump. Therefore, they allege that the President violated this statute. This reporting requirement turns on whether the administration had a valid reason to defer some of the payments. I need to study this subsidiary question further.

Second, did GAO provide any evidence to show that President Trump personally directed his subordinates to withhold the funds? I hesitate before concluding that the President ordered his subordinates to violate the law, when there is a dispute about what exactly the law requires. Several people have cited Mick Mulvaney's press conference, wherein he relayed a conversation with President Trump:

Mulvaney: "(Trump's) like, 'Look, this is a corrupt place. I don't want to send them a bunch of money and have them waste it, have them spend it, have them use it to line their own pockets. Plus, I'm not sure that the other European countries are helping them out either.'

This is not evidence that Trump ordered his subordinates to withhold any funding. Trump merely expressed an opinion that he didn't want to send money to Ukraine, which he viewed as a corrupt country. Were this a run-of-the-mill criminal case, and this comment was picked up on a wiretap, I don't think there would be enough evidence to show the defendant directed his subordinates to take any action, much less evidence to intentionally direct any illegal action. There may be other evidence about what the President personally directed–rather than what people may have inferred–but GAO has cited none. 

Third, did GAO provide any evidence to show that President Trump directed his subordinates to deliberately violate the ICA? This question is premised on a disputed legal issue: was the withholding of certain funds, for some period of time, a violation of the ICA. I don't have nearly enough expertise in budgetary law to opine on this question. The Trump Administration contends that the temporary withholding of part of the funds was lawful if the money was timely transferred to Ukraine as required by statute. GAO disagrees with this argument. It is possible that President Trump ordered his subordinates to with the funding, and he thought the order was lawful because the money would still be transferred within the fiscal year. In that case, the President only ordered his subordinates to violate the law if the GAO was correct about its interpretation of the ICA. GAO–an arm of Congress–offered its opinion, but by no means is this judgment final, and authoritative.

Four, did GAO find that President Trump violated the Constitution's Take Care Clause? No. The decision states, "Faithful execution of the law does not permit the President to substitute his own policy priorities for those that Congress has enacted into law." Did Trump violate the Take Care Clause? GAO will not say, but they are all too happy to insinuate a constitutional ruling. This driveby dictum is entirely unsupported. 

GAO cites no authority, either from any court, or from the Office of Legal Counsel about the Take Care Clause. (There is one citation to Clinton v. City of New York, which discusses bicameralism and presentment, not faithful execution.) Yet this report, released hours before the impeachment trial begins, gently suggests that the President violated the Constitution, even if he did not actually violate any statute. 

In May, I criticized the Mueller Report for spinning a theory of the Take Care Clause without any analysis:

[Mueller's] argument is premised on a novel theory of the Take Care Clause that no court of record has even hinted at. Mueller may be right about this theory in many, if not most cases. But he should have exercised far more caution in advancing this sweeping constitutional argument. That lack of caution reaffirms, once again, how far he departed from OLC's limited discussion of the President's amenability to the criminal law. …

Regrettably, the Mueller report is not a mere academic exercise. Mueller made significant allegations about the culpability of the president, based on threadbare constitutional analysis. The Take Care Clause is not a general good governance provision. It is not a constitutionalized version of the obstruction of justice statute. The Take Care Clause is not a Rorschach test that prohibits whatever you want it to prohibit. The Take Care Clause has a meaning, and Mueller did not do the work to ascertain its meaning.

This criticism applies even more forcefully to GAO. This congressional-agency has no specialized subject matter expertise over constitutional law. The Take Care Clause has a meaning, and GAO didn't even graze the surface of that clause. GAO put forward no analysis of what the clause means. Indeed, the Supreme Court has said very little about this provision. And GAO have carelessly hinted the President has violated the Constitution. It suffices for #TwitterLaw to allege that everything and anything violates the Take Care Clause.  But government agencies must do better.

Recently, the General Services Administration Office of Inspector General weighed in on the Emoluments Clauses litigation. The report made plain errors about the Domestic Emoluments Clause. Oversight watchdogs should recognize they lack the expertise to make these sorts of conclusion. Mueller's team had competent constitutional lawyers, though the final work product didn't reflect their expertise. 

I do think that the allegations could give rise to a constitutional violation. Seth Barrett Tillman and I identified possible constitutional issues in our Lawfare post:

In the impeachment context, Trump's liability could result from knowingly failing to take care that his subordinates faithfully executed the law. We say "knowingly" because it is unreasonable to expect any president to be intimately familiar with every action taken by every subordinate. Additionally, Trump may violate his oath of office if he personally directed others not to make a timely transfer of funds with an intent to block the statute's implementation.

I think this standard, if satisfied, could provide the basis for alleging the President violated the Constitution. There are difficult questions about the requisite state of mind to rise to a constitutional violation. There are also unresolved factual questions: (1) what precisely the President did, (2) what he intended to do, (3) when did he do it, (4) what were the consequences (if any) of those decisions, and finally, (4) what were the likely consequences to follow when those decisions were taken. But GAO has not come close to resolving these factual issues or analyzing the complex legal issues in this situation. And it was truly reckless for GAO to suggest otherwise. They offered only a threadbare constitutional analysis, during this heated and polarized time, hours before the impeachment trial began.

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  1. So the takeaway here seems to be that the GAO is not necessarily wrong, and some of its opinion’s putative failures stem from a lack of development of the underlying law, but you’d like to write something critical about it anyway, for reasons that remain obscure. Is that it?

    1. No… the takeaway is that the GAO can not claim to be right without any proof. They make assertions that MAY be true, but accepting an assertion without proof is negligent, irresponsible, and in a legal matter can be dangerous and unjust.

      1. Not so long ago, we were deriding arguments like this as “process arguments.”

        Anyway, you haven’t actually contradicted my “takeaway.” Like I said – the report isn’t necessarily wrong, is it?

      2. They’re making legal determinations, not factual ones.

  2. I thought the big issue here was that the money was actually handed over before the statutory deadline, so the “delay” actually was just a failure to hand it over early.

    1. Gosh, it sure is inconvenient when the smarty-pants lawyer types don’t back up your political talking points with legal mumbo-jumbo, huh?

    2. Nope. Not even close. The funds were only released after the criminal scheme was discovered and disclosed.

  3. “Funny” that when Trump worshippers like Mr. Blackman want Trump to be able to do something they posit that the president is the executive branch and can do anything he wants. But here, it seems, Mr. Blackman pretends to believe that the president literally can’t order OMB to do anything, and if funds were delayed, it was OMB, acting entirely on its own, who made it happen. Mr. Blackman is simply pretending to be so stupid that he doesn’t know that Donald Trump told his minions to freeze the aid to Ukraine until further notice.

    1. No, Josh is merely arguing that the GAO hasn’t made the case. We certainly know, from plenty of extrinsic evidence, that Trump order the hold, that the stated, shifting rationales make little sense and have no basis in fact, and that the overall legal argument in favor of the hold is dubious, but Josh is just taking shots at the GAO‘s argument.

      That’s how you defend Trump, when you’re an ambitious lawyer.

      1. Where “ambitious lawyer” = “clinger climber”

  4. So some hacks at OMB just decided amongst themselves to delay the funding.

    Yeah, sure….

    1. Why does it matter if the funding was delayed, if it was issued on time?

      1. Exactly. It’s legally irrelevant when the money was handed over, as long as the timing was within the range permitted by law.

        1. It is like if a marine is ordered to report by the Commandant’s office by 1500.

          It does not matter if the Marine in question stopped by the commissary along the way. What matters (in the context of the order) is if the Marine reaches the Commandant’s office by 1500.

        2. And you will continue to repeat this until someone with legal expertise makes the actual legal argument for you!

          1. Man, you go on and on about others beating the procedural drum, and don’t contribute a single actual fact.

            Sounds like your table is getting a workout.

            1. It’s not my responsibility to educate you. It’s merely an amusement, to me, to make fun of a bunch of moronic Trumptards who don’t know what they’re talking about.

              You want me to give you facts? I’ll spend a few hours doing the research and get back to you, and I’ll send you an invoice.

              1. You seem angry.

                1. Every reasonable and informed person should be.

      2. M.E., that’s the issue – the funds were NOT issued on time.

        There was a schedule that OMB was supposed to follow – and they didn’t.

        There’s even a process where OMB could have requested a delay – with they didn’t use.

        OMB did not follow federal law.

        1. Maybe. But I’ll wager the Federal Government violates at least 100,000 laws a day with no consequences.

          But let’s say the President did delay the aid about 45 days according to the spending regulations. That hardly seems as President Obama violating The Budget and Accounting Act of 1921 by submitting the 2014 budget more than 3 months after it was legally required.

          I get it Trump’s terrible and has to be stopped by any means necessary, but instead of going after Trump like they did with Capone with a felony like tax evasion, they’re going after him with parking violations, non-criminal technical violations of the law that would never be considered fodder for impeachment for any other president, except maybe Andrew Johnson.

      3. Why does it matter that the bank Robbers were captured fleeing and the money was recovered? This is classic Trumpist reasoning.

    2. Some hacks at the IRS just decided amongst themselves to deny and harass selected political groups applying for tax-exempt status for intensive scrutiny based on their names or political themes.

      Yeah, sure.

      1. You think they needed to be told what to do?

  5. The Trump Administration contends that the temporary withholding of part of the funds was lawful if the money was timely transferred to Ukraine as required by statute. GAO disagrees with this argument.

    Complying with statute is by definition lawful.

    Faithful execution of the law does not permit the President to substitute his own policy priorities for those that Congress has enacted into law.”

    So in issuing the 2011 Dear Colleague Letter, President Obama was not faithfully executing the law.

    Got it.

    1. Complying with statute is by definition lawful.

      IOW: You have made a conclusory statement that agrees with my preconceived conclusion, so I accept it.

      If you have any kind of legal training (which I doubt), I’d encourage you to read the actual report, which Josh (at least) has helpfully linked. It lays out how you can violate the ICA even though you happen to spend appropriate amounts by the “deadline” of the end of a fiscal year.

      People are approaching Trump’s actions like he has a lot of implicit, unbounded authority to do whatever he wants, unless there’s some kind of explicit law saying he can’t. But that’s not how it works. Trump (and the OMB) don’t have the authority to play timing games with appropriated funding in order to pursue ancillary policy objectives. Nothing in law gives them the open-ended authority to do that. Instead, there are provisions that do give them limited authority to defer or request rescission of appropriated funds. Certainly, they can seek to exercise those authorities in whatever way they deem fit, provided that applicable restrictions are complied with. But the very existence of those authorities and restrictions implies that they can’t do what they did here, which was in effect an attempt to defer funds to provide leverage for unrelated policy negotiations.

      The deep and lost-on-you irony here is that – as is clear in the GAO report – not even the OMB took the expansive view that they could defer the funds indefinitely, up to the end of the fiscal year, just so long as the money’s actually spent. The OMB’s responses to the GAO appear to have done their best to fit within the legal limits that the GAO claims they violated. Unfortunately for the OMB, their responses directly contradicted other evidence – namely, that OMB’s claim that the funds needed to be held pending “interagency review” was rebutted by the fact that the DOD gave Congress the 15-day notice required to disburse the funds way back in May. So the GAO correctly saw through that argument.

      So it seems to me you have a choice, Michael. You can either continue with the fever-swamp narrative that there was “no harm, no foul” here, and ignore that the facts and legal analysis don’t support it, or you can concede that you don’t know jack shit.

      1. You can always make Trump guilty of a crime, if you define crimes in such a way that every President in living memory has committed them.

        The problem is finding an excuse to impeach Trump that wouldn’t have served for every other President in the last 80 years.

        1. You can always make Trump guilty of a crime, if you define crimes in such a way that every President in living memory has committed them.

          I don’t define “crimes” or what the law is. Statutes, regulations, and caselaw do. And noting that other presidents have violated the law does not mean that Trump hasn’t. That’s just a pointless red herring.

          The problem is finding an excuse to impeach Trump that wouldn’t have served for every other President in the last 80 years.

          How many presidents, in the last 80 years, have put America’s national security at risk in order to dig up dirt on their political opponents? Assuming that you can name one besides Trump, is there any reason why we wouldn’t be able to acknowledge that that other president maybe should have been impeached, as well?

          The presidency doesn’t belong to Trump. It belongs to us. We don’t have to justify taking it away from him. We can just decide that it’s time he goes back to golfing at Mar-a-Lago. That’s our prerogative. We don’t need to explain why or how doing so is consistent with precedent.

          1. Please name the specific national security risk = How many presidents, in the last 80 years, have put America’s national security at risk in order to dig up dirt on their political opponents?

            1. Withholding military aid to Ukraine, given Ukraine’s ongoing conflict with Russia, signaled to Russia (and Ukraine) that we are not reliable or predictable allies, and may be swayed to shift positions (as we did in Syria, Iraq, and Iran) by personal appeals to Trump, regardless of the larger ramifications in the region.

              That’s why the national security apparatus was jumping up and down about getting the aid out the door. It wasn’t just about getting guns into Ukraine’s hands. It was about shoring up the NATO alliance and its support for an independent (and whole) Ukraine. The fact that the aid was ultimately released doesn’t entirely undo the damage to those relationships.

              1. Hahahahaha. Well your take on foreign policy is just riveting. But I’m not sure disagreeing with a few holdover Obama bureaucrats on foreign policy is a legitimate basis for impeachment.

                Surely this is a grave national security matter though, since all of the European countries, who are actually located on the relevant continent, were also dumping hundreds of billions into Ukraine. Oh, wait . . . .

                1. But I’m not sure disagreeing with a few holdover Obama bureaucrats on foreign policy is a legitimate basis for impeachment.

                  As far as we have reason to believe, Trump didn’t disagree with “a few holdover Obama bureaucrats” on foreign policy in Ukraine. He in fact signed the legislation to send military aid to Ukraine and would have been within his rights to request to rescind that appropriation (which he didn’t do). He had also made plenty of statements supporting Ukraine and kept sanctions put into place over Russia’s annexation of Crimea.

                  Where he disagreed was simply in placing his own political survival ahead of those national security interests. Even his own appointees disagreed with him on that.

                  Surely this is a grave national security matter though, since all of the European countries, who are actually located on the relevant continent, were also dumping hundreds of billions into Ukraine.

                  U.S. military aid in 2019 was only in the hundreds of millions. And the Europeans have spent billions on economic and government restructuring in order to prop up Ukraine’s government. They are very keenly interested in opposing Russia there, and have spent more on the country than we have.

                  1. No, Trump disagreed with your opinings here about just what was “signaled,” what was “damaged” and so on. Which opinings happen to mimic the Obama holdovers that have been propped up to support the totally laughable impeachment farce.

                    1. Whatever you say, comrade.

              2. Instead of shoring up NATO, how about ending it? Seems like President Macron is on board.

                1. Macron has lamented that NATO appears to be “braindead,” due to the person the US has elected as its president.

                  1. President Macron is right: it’s time Nato came to an end

                    President Macron has pronounced Nato brain dead. That is an irreversible condition so all that remains is to switch off the life support and bury the corpse.

                    In the case of Nato, that is long overdue.

                    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/dec/04/president-macron-is-right-its-time-nato-came-to-an-end

                    1. Ain’t saying your Russian, but ending NATO is sure on Putin’s wish list.
                      It’d weaken American power projection as well. Which you’re usually so America First about.

                    2. Maybe you’re right Sarc. Point is, reasonable minds might disagree on the importance and significance of a few weeks’ delay in dumping 400 billion in highly corrupt Ukraine “to shore up NATO.”

                    3. ML, if you really are a lawyer you know that actual consequence of an illegal act are not necessary for legal culpability.

                      And yet you are arguing otherwise.

                      I’m beginning to wonder if you’re even a millennial at this point.

                    4. Sarcastro, you should be enough of a lawyer to know not all, or even most, violations of the law are criminal.

                      And indeed the House didn’t allege any criminal acts by Trump.

            2. 1. Further empowering Russia against Ukraine. 2. Another in a series of pro-Russian actions and disclosures. 3. Corrupting the office of the Secretary of State so that, as this week, Pompeo runs away from. The obligation to testify under oath. That’s a start.

          2. “How many presidents, in the last 80 years, have put America’s national security at risk in order to dig up dirt on their political opponents?”

            Well, the Obama administration spied on the Trump campaign to dig up dirt on political opponents. They even got help from 13 foreign countries in the process to dig up dirt on political opponents. The Clinton campaign and the DNC paid foreigners to dig up dirt from the Russians on their political opponents. They then passed on said dirt to the Obama administration, which used it as a basis for a warrant to spy on the Trump campaign even though it was “unverified.”

            1. Well, the Obama administration spied on the Trump campaign to …

              Because they had evidence that the Russians were trying to influence and coordinate with that campaign, in order to undermine the 2016 election.

              They even got help from 13 foreign countries in the process to dig up dirt on political opponents.

              You mean, U.S. intelligence agencies received tips from foreign intelligence agencies about Russia’s plot.

              The Clinton campaign and the DNC paid foreigners to dig up dirt from the Russians on their political opponents.

              I’m not sure why you bring this up, when the question is about what presidents have done. Or, I do – I understand that you’re just an idiot who mashes all of this stuff together in his head, or a Russian troll, or both – but it’s not actually relevant here.

              They then passed on said dirt to the Obama administration, which used it as a basis for a warrant to spy on the Trump campaign even though it was “unverified.”

              And the fishing expedition specifically set up to undermine the Mueller investigation confirmed that the warrant applications, while sloppy, weren’t illegally obtained.

              Is that the best you’ve got?

              1. “Because they had evidence that the Russians were trying to influence and coordinate with that campaign, in order to undermine the 2016 election.”

                Nope.

                “You mean, U.S. intelligence agencies received tips from foreign intelligence agencies about Russia’s plot.”

                Nope, the U.S. made requests to 13 foreign intelligence agencies.

                “I’m not sure why you bring this up . . . you’re just an idiot . . . or a Russian troll . . .”

                But you do understand, and you’re a liar. It’s important context of the very next sentence you address.

                “And the fishing expedition specifically set up to undermine the Mueller investigation confirmed that the warrant applications, while sloppy, weren’t illegally obtained.”

                Nope. Quite the contrary, Obama appointee Horowitz “strongly criticized the FBI’s handling of one aspect of the probe: the request for a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) wiretap of ex-Trump campaign foreign policy adviser Carter Page and subsequent renewals of the FISA. The OIG report concludes that FBI agents who provided information to senior FBI and Justice Department officials in support of the FISA request misled their superiors on three key issues: Page’s prior work with another (unnamed) U.S. government intelligence agency (apparently the Central Intelligence Agency); his denials of involvement with specific Russian intelligence operatives; and the reliability of ex-British spy Christopher Steele, of “Steele dossier” fame, a key source for the FISA request. Indeed, according to the OIG report, the serious nature of these errors and FBI senior officials’ failure to detect and remedy them over time raised “significant questions” . . . the OIG report features detailed discussion of omissions and mischaracterizations in the original Carter Page FISA request and subsequent requests to renew that surveillance authority.”

                https://www.lawfareblog.com/justice-department-inspector-generals-report-raises-troubling-questions-about-fbis-role-fisa-cases

                1. That’s not Obama, that’s the FISA process which existed long before.

                  1. But Obama is to blame for all events that occurred between 1.20.11 and 1.20.17.

              2. “Because they had evidence that the Russians were trying to influence and coordinate with that campaign, in order to undermine the 2016 election.”

                No they didn’t, they manufactured evidence that attempted to show that.

                Are you the last person on earth who believes the Steele dossier is true?

                1. They had evidence. Papadopoulos.

                  The GAO reviewed and found the investigations initial predicate to be sufficient.

                  You disagreeing doesn’t mean much.

                  1. We’re talking about the spying and the FISA, not a “counter-intelligence probe.”

                    1. No worries – so am I!

            2. Nope. Didn’t happen.

        2. > if you define crimes in such a way that every President in living memory has committed them.

          Wait, you *don’t* think every President since Carter has?

  6. Mulvaney: “(Trump’s) like, ‘Look, this is a corrupt place. I don’t want to send them a bunch of money and have them waste it, have them spend it, have them use it to line their own pockets. Plus, I’m not sure that the other European countries are helping them out either.’

    Point of order — This is why we send money to corrupt regimes around the world — so the kleptocrats can skim off the top and we buy compliance with our policies. That’s the only reason they go into rulership to begin with.

  7. Let’s assume that the GAO is 100% correct in their analysis.

    Who was harmed?
    Was the legal breach cured with the delivery of the aid?

    I’ve read that every day, the average American violates several laws, and probably doesn’t even know it, or figures big deal because it doesn’t harm anyone. This feels like one of those situations.

    The timing of the release of this opinion, on the eve of the upcoming impeachment hearing is….curious. Does the GAO report to the House, or to the executive branch?

    1. The GAO is a legislative branch agency.

  8. I find it extremely distasteful when professors of law dance on the head of a pin in order to be accessories after the fact to crimes, and to provide legal cover for corrupt and compromised Senators. I suppose the VC is too polite of a place for one of the residents to provide a proper rebuttal, one of which may relate to the quantity of fecal matter in Blackman’s four observations above. I beseech the students at the esteemed South Texas College of Law Houston to take that role at their next opportunity.

    1. The VC has long been a sounding board for enterprising and ambitious conservative law professors looking for an angle into history. Josh is really just trying to repeat the example of Randy Barnett, who used the space to develop and promote his (ultimately unsuccessful) argument to invalidate Obamacare, and probably sold lots of books because of it. (Josh’s own tenure here appears to have stemmed from his own involvement in that whole embarrassment.)

      My theory is that Josh wants to move into the administration during Trump’s second term or accept a spot in the Fifth Circuit.

      1. His VC posts may be the longest job application in history.

        1. Poor Josh. Such an obvious and energetic climber, but chose the wrong side and consequently destined to spend his lifetime a loser.

          Until he, like all clingers, is replaced. By a better person.

          1. I believe a visit from your alter egos is in order, Reverend. 🙂

            1. Open wider, clinger.

        2. You sell a few books along the way, you get by.

          1. Flattering right-wing funding sources is a profitable, albeit shabby, path.

    2. Well, Clinton was acquitted by the Senate.

      Get over it; it was more than twenty years ago!

    3. Do you find it distasteful that law professors, Congress and the media quietly ignored the seven times the GAO found that the Obama administration “violated the law”?

      Surely ScottK and SimonP’s sensibilities are appalled at the double standard.

      1. Or how about when Obama committed campaign finance violations, and the result was for the campaign to quietly pay a small fine later on? Why was no one thrown in jail like Michael Cohen? And pressured and coerced to the maximum extent conceivable for political reasons to “flip” or concoct some basis to damage Trump?

        1. (A) The fine was one of the largest the FEC ever imposed.

          (B) Campaign-finance violations are only crimes when they’re willful, and the Obama campaign’s violations were technical.

  9. My complaints about this whole thing have always been that no one provides details.

    Exactly how is foreign aid actually disbursed? Does Congress direct that the money be sent during the current fiscal year, leaving the precise timing to bureaucracy? Does Congress set a specific date? Is it sent in a lump sum or in installments?

    All I know is that the money was sent during the fiscal year, that the money was ready to be sent, somebody delayed sending it for some period of time, and it was ultimately sent before the end of the fiscal year.

    Someone once responded with links to some details, with various periods mentioned. But still nothing specific about deadlines, installments, etc; nothing to compare with how this foreign aid was actually processed and whether it was actually delayed beyond some Congressional specification.

    1. Read the GAO decision.

      There was a schedule OMB was supposed to follow – by law.

      1. The last time someone suggested that, it was so full of equivocation that there was no telling what was legal, required, or a recipe for a ham sandwich.

  10. If GAO is 100% correct in their analysis then what are the legal concerns and financial matters on it. Not sure. need to keep an eye on it.

  11. “Nice place you have here. It would be a shame if something were to… happen… to it.”

    “That’s just an idle observation! Not a threat at all. Who could ever construe that as a threat?” – probably Josh Blackman.

  12. Seven Times the GAO Found the Obama Administration Violated Federal Law

    https://www.breitbart.com/politics/2020/01/16/seven-times-the-gao-found-the-obama-administration-violated-federal-law/

    Oops, guess Obama should have been impeached seven times.

    1. > Oops, guess Obama should have been impeached seven times.

      Yes, obviously.

      Impeachment is like planting a tree: the best time to do so is twenty years ago; the second best time is now.

    2. Read the reports and then let us know if you still feel they describe comparable violations to what Trump did here.

    3. You can’t possibly be so dumb as to believe that anyone is arguing that Trump should be impeached because he committed a technical appropriations-law violation.

      See, for example, this technically appropriations-law violation by the Trump administration that exactly no one is suggesting warrants impeachment: https://www.gao.gov/mobile/products/B-331132.

  13. WaPo in 2014: GAO Ruling Against Obama Nothing More Than ‘Political Talking Point’

    WaPo in 2020: GAO ruling against Trump ‘severely rebukes Trump’s Ukraine ploy’

    https://freebeacon.com/issues/wapo-in-2014-gao-ruling-against-obama-nothing-more-than-political-talking-point/

    1. Breitbart.
      Free Beacon.

      Generally, a complete lack of perspective about different violations of the law.

      Didn’t you angrily proclaim your media diet was balanced? Guess you don’t care about maintaining that facade anymore as you go deeper and deeper.

      1. So you have no substantive response as usual? Never going to provide the factual “perspective” you claim is lacking?

        Media diet =/= the citations offered in a comment thread. Nonetheless, I cited Lawfare/Brookings above. Hard to imagine a source, entity or outlet more diametrically opposed to my opinions than Lawfare/Brookings.

        1. My substantive point is your complete lack of perspective about different violations of the law. Pointing out administrative infractions as though they were just as bad as misappropriation of Congressional funds is ridiculous.

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