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OMB official: Two staffers left in part due to concerns with hold on Ukrainian aid

By Daniel Uria

Nov. 26 (UPI) -- Office of Management and Budget senior official Mark Sandy said President Donald Trump's decision to withhold military aid to Ukraine contributed to at least two staffers' decisions to resign.

The House intelligence committee on Tuesday released a transcript of Sandy's closed-door testimony from Nov. 16 as part of an impeachment inquiry into Trump. Lawmakers asked Sandy whether he was aware of any OMB staffers that left the agency due to the hold, which a whistle-blower's complaint said was tied to a request that Ukraine investigate Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter Biden.

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Sandy said he recalled one staffer who resigned after expressing frustrations about not understanding the reason for the hold.

The House panel then asked if an OMB attorney resigned "because, at least in part, of concerns with the hold" on Ukrainian aid.

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"This person expressed to me concerns about actions vis-a-vis the Impoundment Control Act," Sandy said, referring to the 1974 law passed under President Richard Nixon, placing restrictions on a president's ability to defer spending funds allocated by Congress.

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When pressed on whether these concerns led to the attorney's departure, Sandy confirmed that he or she had expressed disagreement about the issue.

"I never want to attribute that as the, you know, sole purpose for an individual's actions, but I am aware of their frustrations in that area," he said.

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In his testimony, Sandy added that he also raised concerns that the hold might implicate the Impoundment Control Act to OMB staffer Mike Duffey, noting the end date for the suspension of aid was not defined.

"Consistent with a layman's understanding off the Impoundment Control Act, we need to ensure that agencies are able to obligate funds before they expire," he said.

Sandy also confirmed that the process to begin implementing the hold on Ukrainian aid began the same day of Trump's July 25 call with Ukranian President Volodymyr Zelensky at the center of the impeachment inquiry.

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"So the first written apportionment with the footnote restricting the funds goes out on July 25?" he was asked.

"Yes, sir," Sandy replied.

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