Much of the country has become spellbound by the televised impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump’s actions regarding a Ukraine Aid package appropriated by Congress. The Democrats say that Trump withheld the money to bribe or extort the president of Ukraine to announce a political investigation of former Vice President and current Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden. Republicans say: no he didn’t.
This is why neither of the narratives make a lick of difference.
All you need to do in order to successfully draft articles of impeachment for a sitting president is prove that the president committed “Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.” The writers of the Constitution liked to keep the wording of the document vague so that future generations could decide for themselves. What that means is that all we really need to do is show that the president broke our laws.
And that makes drafting articles of impeachment really easy because Trump blatantly broke our laws. But you might not know exactly which ones, because both Democrats and Republicans have been skirting around the details for months.
Here’s what you need to know: The Impoundment Control Act (ICA) sets forth the conditions that might require a president to impound or defer monies already appropriated by Congressional authority. The wording of this law is much more direct because its framers wanted to prevent executive abuse or usurpation of authority already guaranteed to another branch of government; i.e. the legislative branch, in this case.
The ICA says that Trump would need: “(1) to provide for contingencies; (2) to achieve savings made possible by or through changes in requirements or greater efficiency of operations; or (3) as specifically provided by law. No officer or employee of the United States may defer any budget authority for any other purpose.”
And that’s where the story becomes much more easy to discern. Because Trump never once informed Congress that the money it allocated for Ukraine was about to be withheld on his orders.
During publicly televised impeachment testimony, Department of Defense official Laura Cooper described the response of her office when they found out about Trump’s order to withhold the money. She said, “Immediately deputies began to raise concerns about how this could be done in a legal fashion.”
Cooper then sat down in a meeting with the White House in order to advise the Trump administration how it could legally withhold these monies in order to comply with the ICA — but the Trump administration ignored the advice, the money was withheld anyway, and at least two people quit over moral concerns that the orders they were told to follow were in fact illegal.
And the orders were illegal. Trump had no authority to defer or impound congressionally approved funds without first notifying Congress — and to make matters even worse, he certainly didn’t have authority to do it for the reasons that are only now being given by his Republican defenders. His violation of the ICA laws is impeachable, regardless of whether you believe the Democrat narrative, Republican narrative, or neither.