Cornyn disputes GAO report on withholding of Ukraine aid: It's 'certainly not a crime'

Cornyn disputes GAO report on withholding of Ukraine aid: It's 'certainly not a crime'
© Aaron Schwartz

Sen. John CornynJohn CornynCongress eyes killing controversial surveillance program Hillicon Valley: Twitter falling short on pledge to verify primary candidates | Barr vows to make surveillance reforms after watchdog report | DHS cyber chief focused on 2020 Twitter falling short on pledge to verify primary candidates MORE (R-Texas) on Sunday disputed the findings of a watchdog report that found the Trump administration's decision to withhold aid to Ukraine broke the law. 

"[It's] certainly not a crime and something that no one had ever dreamed in the past would have risen to the level of impeachment," Cornyn said on CBS's "Face the Nation."

"This is one of the basic problems with the House's case."

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"Isn’t it central to that question of the president withholding aid for personal gain, which is the allegation?" host Margaret Brennan asked Cornyn.

The senator responded by defending President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump passes Pence a dangerous buck Overnight Health Care — Presented by American Health Care Association — Trump taps Pence to lead coronavirus response | Trump accuses Pelosi of trying to create panic | CDC confirms case of 'unknown' origin | Schumer wants .5 billion in emergency funds Trump nods at reputation as germaphobe during coronavirus briefing: 'I try to bail out as much as possible' after sneezes MORE's actions related to Ukraine, stressing that the House-passed article of impeachment charging the president with abuse of power is not treason, bribery or a high crime and misdemeanor, which are laid out as reasons for impeachment in the Constitution. 

"This is the first time in history where a president has been impeached for a non-crime, for events that never occurred, ultimately the investigation never took place and ultimately the aid was delivered," Cornyn said. "This is really unique and I think every senator is going to take this very seriously." 

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The Government Accountability Office (GAO) report claimed that Trump's decision to freeze the release of the security assistance violated the Impoundment Control Act (ICA) because funds approved by Congress were withheld "for a policy reason." 

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

The report was released just before the Senate kicks off the next phase of the impeachment proceedings. 

The House sent the articles of impeachment to the Senate late last week. This week senators will vote this week on the rules of the trial, including whether or not to allow witnesses as part of the process.