About the GAO ruling …

Gotta admit that I was initially suckered in by this one:

image

I thought “Maybe they’ve got him with this one”.

That is. until the WSJ shredded the GAO opinion, arguing that:

  1. The GAO is not “independent”. It works at the behest of the legislative branch and is beholden to them.
  2. The GAO is not the authoritative word on legal issues. Its opinion are non-binding, are often over-ridden by the courts and are generally ignored.
  3. There are numerous examples  of GAO illegality opinions issued against the Obama administration.  They were routinely ignored by the Congress and the press.
  4. Regardless, the funds were released to the Ukrainians in the fiscal year for which they were authorized. Bottom line: no harm, no foul.

Here are the details….

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From the WSJ:

1. The GAO is not “independent”. It works at the behest of the legislative branch and is beholden to them.

Who says so?

The Supreme Court which in a 1986 opinion “explicitly found that GAO is subservient to the legislative branch”.  That is, “GAO does its best to serve the interests of its congressional bosses.

In this case, Dem Senator Chris Van Hollen who “repeatedly prodded GAO staff to concur with his claim of a Trump legal violation.”

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2. The GAO is not the authoritative word on legal issues.

Rather, the Justice Department (the Executive Branch) and ultimately the federal courts (the Judicial Branch) make the big calls” on legality (or illegality).

Said differently, the GAO ii largely a toothless tiger issuing non-binding opinions that are often over-ridden and generally ignored.
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3. There are numerous examples — from the Obama reign — of GAO illegality opinions that have been ignored by the Congress … and, of course, by the press.

My personal favorites:

  • The Bowe Bergdahl prisoner swap:The GAO ruled that “funds that hadn’t been expressly appropriated” were used to facilitate the transfer without Congressional approval or concurrence.
  • The $5 billion unauthorized pay-out to health insurer’s.The GAO ruled that “The Obama administration failed to follow its own health reform law.

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4. Regardless, the funds were released to the Ukrainians in the fiscal year for which they were authorized.

English translation: no harm no foul.

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Whew … I’ll sleep better tonight.

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