WASHINGTON - U.S. President Donald Trump violated the country's spending law last year when he temporarily withheld $391 million in congressionally approved military aid to Ukraine while at the same pressing Kyiv to launch investigations to benefit himself politically, a government watchdog agency concluded Thursday in a decision that is at the heart of the impeachment case against the U.S. leader.
Trump released the assistance that Ukraine wanted to help fight pro-Russian separatists in the eastern part of the country in September after a 55-day delay without Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy opening an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden, one of Trump's top 2020 Democratic challengers, and his son Hunter Biden's lucrative work for a Ukrainian natural gas company.
But after an investigation, the Government Accountability Office ruled that "Faithful execution of the law does not permit the president to substitute his own policy priorities for those that Congress has enacted into law." It said that the Trump-controlled U.S. budget agency blocked release of the money "for a policy reason," which is not allowable under U.S. law.
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