The Government Accountability Office, a nonpartisan agency that reports to Congress, released a decision Thursday morning declaring that President Donald Trump had violated federal law by intervening to block congressionally approved military aid to Ukraine — which was, of course, a key event in the ongoing scandal that has led to impeachment.
“Faithful execution of the law does not permit the President to substitute his own policy priorities for those that Congress has enacted into law,” the GAO decision says, as quoted in The Washington Post. It states that the Office of Management and Budget “withheld funds for a policy reason, which is not permitted under the Impoundment Control Act.”
(And of course, it’s been well-established that the “policy reason” for blocking the aid was Trump’s desire to pressure Ukraine into announcing an investigation against Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden.)
This all might come as news to anybody who just watches Fox News; the network has insisted throughout the Ukraine scandal that no law of any kind was broken.
Just last night, Fox host Laura Ingraham hosted former Whitewater independent counsel Robert Ray, both of whom agreed that the Senate should reject the impeachment out of hand — because, as Ingraham said, “there's no crime here.”
“And it's a little hard to see how you have a fair trial over a case in which there's not any accusation of a crime, much less evidence of one.”
Trump tweeted on Thursday morning a quotation from Ingraham’s show — just as the GAO report on his actual law breaking was coming down the pike.
And it’s not like this sort of duplicity is some recent development. Ever since the Ukraine scandal first broke, the declarations from Fox personalities that no crime was committed have been legion.
Back in September, Fox host Sean Hannity boldly declared on his radio show: “Now, I know people familiar with this matter, familiar with what the so-called whistleblower has. And I have been told in no uncertain terms: Nothing illegal happened on any telephone call.”
Fox host Tucker Carlson had brought on attorney Joe DiGenova, an associate of Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani, who said: “Let me underscore emphatically that nothing that the president said on that call or what we think he said on that call constitutes a crime, and even if he had said, ‘You're not going to get the money,’ it would not be a crime.”
And in November, Fox News contributor Charles Hurt said: “And so when you hear Adam Schiff and Democrats use all these squirrelly words like quid pro quo, bribery, all these things, it's all because they can't specify exactly where Donald Trump broke any law or did anything particularly wrong.”
Even before today’s GAO announcement, it was clear: Trump abused his powers as president, playing political games with international security in order to go after a domestic opponent. And it’s been Fox News’ mission to deny and distract from all of that.