Trump Violated Another Law, the Impoundment Control Act, by Withholding Ukraine Aid, Democratic Senator Van Hollen Says

During an appearance on MSNBC, Senator Christopher Van Hollen (D-Md.) announced that he'd asked the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to look into the charges against President Trump to determine whether or not he had violated the Impoundment Control Act.

"We know from the mountain of evidence from the House that the president abused the powers of his office, right?" said Van Hollen, pointing out that the president stands accused of withholding aid to Ukraine in trade for information on a political opponent in the upcoming 2020 presidential election.

"The withholding was illegal, and a violation of the law in a different sense as well. And that would hold true, I believe, even if we accepted the president's more fanciful view of events, where he claimed that this was just some sort of policy review," Van Hollen said.

The Impoundment Control Act, as Van Hollen pointed out, sets out "narrow circumstances" under which the executive branch may withhold funds. Congress must be notified if funds are to be withheld, and no notification was given to Congress, said Van Hollen.

Chris Van Hollen
Senator Chris Van Hollen has said that President Trump may have violated another law for allegedly withholding aide from the Ukraine. MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty

The Impoundment Control Act was passed in 1974, and has been amended in 1985, 1990 and 1997.

This isn't the first time the Act has been brought up as a part of the Trump impeachment hearings. In November, two budget office employees resigned over what they felt was a violation of that act—improprieties around the transfer of the military aid money to the Ukraine.

President Trump remains under fire for allegedly asking Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to commit to a "quid pro quo" trade with America during a July telephone call. Trump is said to have threatened to withhold military aid that had already been approved by Congress, unless Zelenskiy provided the president with information on former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter involving their alleged dealings with the Ukrainian gas company Burisma. Trump claims Biden used his power as vice president to have an investigation into Burisma killed, an accusation that has not yet been proven.

A whistleblower report by an anonymous individual who described themself as "deeply concerned" about the possibility that the president had abused his position cited the existence of "more than half a dozen officials" who had heard about the call in a report filed August 12, leading to an impeachment inquiry into President Trump's actions during the July phone call.

Last Wednesday, President Trump became the third American president be impeached in the country's history. On Monday, an email from White House official Michael Duffy requesting aid be withheld from the Ukraine was made public. The request from Duffy came 91 minutes after the quid pro quo request was allegedly made from Trump to Zelenskiy. The White House says the timing of the call is a coincidence. Trump continues to deny any wrongdoing in the matter.

Updated: 12/30/2019, 8:58 p.m.: With corrections about the whistleblower's knowledge of the events of the July phone call.