After facing probing questions from career staff at the Office of Management and Budget, the White House shifted the authority to withhold nearly $400 million in aid to the Ukraine to a politically appointed official, The Wall Street Journal reports. OMB career civil servants are typically responsible for apportionment, the process of approving and releasing government funds; but the White House reportedly bucked this tradition, according to the newspaper, and instead gave the authority over funds earmarked for Ukraine to Michael Duffey, associate director of national security programs in OMB. The shift to Duffey, previously a high-ranking Pentagon official and the executive director of the Wisconsin Republican Party, was unusual, according to several former OMB officials.
That shift is of interest to House Democrats who are probing the freeze as part of the impeachment inquiry. Democratic leaders of the House Budget and Appropriations committees, one of the five House committees looking into the delay, called the involvement of a political official in the apportionment process “seemingly unprecedented” in a letter requesting documents from OMB.