The White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) asserts in a new legal memo that aid to Ukraine was withheld to review if the country complied with U.S. policy, not as a political move to block Congress’s spending decision, according to a copy of the memo shared with The Hill.
The Washington Post first reported the content of the memo Wednesday.
The memo was written by OMB general counsel Mark Paoletta in response to a request from the U.S. Government Accountability Office over why the aid had been delayed.
OMB extended a temporary hold eight times in August and September, the Post reported. The memo reportedly says the last hold was on Sept. 10 and the money was released almost immediately after.
A senior administration official told the Post that the office first reassessed whether to release the aid on June 19, the day that the president learned of the aid from an article in the Washington Examiner.
The delay in aid is at the center of the House impeachment probe of President TrumpDonald TrumpOmar, Muslim Democrats decry Islamophobia amid death threats On The Money — Powell pivots as inflation rises Trump cheers CNN's Cuomo suspension MORE. House Democrats unveiled two articles of impeachment against the president this week accusing him of abusing his power by withholding the aid and obstructing the congressional investigation into his actions.
Paoletta reportedly argues in the memo that the agency frequently puts temporary holds on money signed into law.
“For decades, OMB has routinely used its apportionment authority to prevent funds from being used,” Paoletta wrote, according to the Post.
“Often, in managing appropriations, OMB must briefly pause an agency’s legal ability to spend those funds for a number of reasons, including to ensure that the funds are being spent efficiently, that they are being spent in accordance with statutory directives, or to assess how or whether funds should be used for a particular activity," he reportedly continued.
The agency’s memo does not, however, disprove Democrats’ allegations that Trump abused his power by trying to pressure a foreign nation to investigate a political rival or that he obstructed justice by impeding an investigation into his actions, the Post reports.
A spokesperson for OMB did not immediately respond for comment.
Updated at 4:26 p.m.