Nancy Pelosi doubles down on demand for expanded Senate trial in light of GAO report

The Washington Times - Politics

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi ramped up her demands for documents and witnesses in the Senate impeachment trial Thursday morning, in light of a new report concluding the Trump administration’s hold on Ukraine aid was illegal.

“The OMB, the White House, the administration — I’m saying this — broke the law,” she said. “This reinforces — again — the need for documents and eyewitnesses in the Senate.”

“Any further evidence should not be avoided,” she continued.

Mrs. Pelosi, California Democrat, released the two impeachment articles this week after an unprecedented standoff with the Senate, despite gaining no assurances that the GOP-controlled chamber will include new information in the trial.

She argued that public opinion for seeing more information in the Senate has grown since the articles were passed last month.

Mrs. Pelosi also slammed Attorney General William Barr as a “rouge” actor implicated in the impeachment allegations.

Recent polling has shown that a majority of Americans would like to hear from a key witness like former National Security Advisor John Bolton.

The Government Accountability Office, the official legal branch for Congress, concluded in a report Thursday that the president did violate the law by delaying the military aid funds for Ukraine.

The money is a core element in the impeachment case against Mr. Trump, which goes to trial next week.

Democrats accused the president of freezing the aid to pressure Ukraine into opening investigations into an unsubstantiated theory about 2016 election interference and his political rival Joseph R. Biden.

The administration maintains the aid was not linked to the investigations, but was held up because Mr. Trump wanted ensure Ukraine was reining in corruption.

The GAO has dinged other presidents in the past for misuse of congressionally appropriated funds, but typically for spending money for which they don’t have authorization rather than holding on to funds.

While the hold on aid is at the heart of the abuse of power charge, Democrats also impeached Mr. Trump for obstruction of Congress.

Mrs. Pelosi criticized the administration for deliberately trying to mislead the country.

“You see this more and more and more in all of this, this tangled web to deceive that the administration is engaged in,” she said.

The GAO report noted that it had problems getting the information it needed from the administration.

“We consider a reluctance to provide a fulsome response to have constitutional significance,” GAO General Counsel Thomas H. Armstrong wrote. “GAO’s role under the ICA — to provide information and legal analysis to Congress as it performs oversight of executive activity — is essential to ensuring respect for and allegiance to Congress’ constitutional power of the purse.”

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