The White House budget office claimed in a legal memo that it withheld military aid to Ukraine as a temporary measure to make sure the spending complied with U.S. policy, The Washington Post reports. In response to questions from the Government Accountability Office asking why the aid was being delayed, Office of Management and Budget general counsel Mark Paoletta claimed the move was in response to a Trump administration directive “pending a policy decision.” Paoletta said discussions for this decision began on June 19, the same day President Trump reportedly learned about the aid in a Washington Examiner piece and questioned the spending. Paoletta also argued that it was common practice for the agency to put money on hold after Congress already approved the spending. He also argued against notifying Congress of the delays, stating that the hold-up of the Ukraine aid was a “programmatic delay” that did not require lawmakers to be notified.
The budget office proceeded to temporarily withhold aid eight times in August and September after Trump questioned the spending. The withholding of military aid has been part of an alleged quid-pro-quo effort Trump officials pushed on Ukraine, which has been at the center of Trump's impeachment inquiry.