WASHINGTON — Two officials at the White House Office of Management and Budget recently resigned while voicing concerns over the holdup on Ukraine aid, a career employee of the agency told impeachment investigators, according to a transcript of his testimony released Tuesday.

Mark Sandy, the only OMB official to testify in the impeachment inquiry, did not name the employees in question. He said one worked in the OMB legal division and described that person as having a “dissenting opinion” about how the security assistance to Ukraine could be held up in light of the Impoundment Control Act, which limits the ability of the executive branch to change spending decisions already made by Congress.

The other person, who resigned in September, “expressed some frustrations about not understanding the reason for the hold,” Sandy said.

Sandy, the agency’s deputy associate director for national security programs, testified on Nov. 16, becoming the first OMB official to do so after political appointees at the agency defied congressional subpoenas to participate in the Democratic-led House impeachment inquiry.

The release of Sandy’s testimony came as House Democrats on Tuesday took steps forward in their impeachment inquiry into President Trump’s actions, with the judiciary panel scheduling its first hearing and the budget panel releasing a report alleging that the White House broke the law by withholding money from Ukraine.

The moves show the impeachment process quickly advancing beyond the hearings held by the House Intelligence Committee this month to proceedings that could lead to a formal vote on impeachment.

The House Judiciary Committee hearing scheduled for Dec. 4 is a crucial step in this process because that panel has the power to draft the articles of impeachment against Trump.

House Democrats launched their impeachment inquiry into Trump’s actions in July, alleging that he withheld security funding for Ukraine and a White House meeting for that country’s president until the new leader, Volodymyr Zelensky, agreed to announce investigations into Trump’s U.S. political opponents.

Current and former government officials have testified that they were alarmed about the White House’s decision to withhold the money, with some saying they feared that Trump was trying to pressure the Ukrainian government for his own political gain. Trump has denied wrongdoing and decried the investigation.

In announcing the Dec. 4 hearing, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., sent a letter to Trump and asked whether he or his lawyer planned to attend and question witnesses.

“We expect to discuss the constitutional framework through which the House may analyze the evidence gathered in the present inquiry,” Nadler wrote. “We will also discuss whether your alleged actions warrant the House’s exercising its authority to adopt articles of impeachment.”

Nadler asked Trump to notify the committee by Dec. 1 if he planned to participate in any way. Last week, Trump said he would seriously consider responding to written questions as part of the inquiry, but he has not mentioned the idea since.

Trump on Tuesday gave mixed signals about whether the White House might participate in the process. In Twitter posts, he wrote, “I would actually like people to testify,” but he suggested he wasn’t allowing his top current and former aides to testify because it would set a dangerous precedent for future presidents.

“It is a Democrat Scam that is going nowhere but, future Presidents should in no way be compromised,” Trump wrote. “What has happened to me should never happen to another President!”

Democrats have tried to establish a timeline of events that show the aid money appropriated for Ukraine was withheld around the same time Trump was increasing pressure on Zelensky to investigate former vice president Joe Biden and his son Hunter. The House Budget Committee on Tuesday issued a report that it said was based on documents it obtained from the OMB.

The House Budget Committee’s report alleged that the OMB engaged in a “pattern of abuse” of its authority and the law in holding up the security assistance to Ukraine. The Washington Post has reported that a confidential White House review of the decision to block the aid turned up hundreds of documents that reveal extensive efforts to generate an after-the-fact justification for the decision. Officials also debated internally whether blocking the aid was even legal.

In findings based on the documents turned over by the OMB, the Democratic-led House Budget Committee cites unusual steps the agency took over the summer as it moved to hold up nearly $400 million of State Department and Pentagon assistance for Ukraine that had been approved by Congress, including several discussed by Sandy in his testimony to congressional investigators.

These included putting a political appointee in charge of approving spending in late July, after Sandy raised concerns, and delaying funds in a way that limited agencies’ ability to spend congressionally approved spending by the end of the fiscal year.

The latter move would be a violation of the Impoundment Control Act of 1974, which was passed in response to actions by President Richard Nixon.

In addition, the new report confirms a timeline of events related to the Ukraine aid decisions. It says, for example, that on July 18, the OMB notified an interagency working group about a plan to withhold funds intended for Ukraine.

One week later, on the morning of July 25, Trump and Zelensky spoke by phone, and Trump mentioned the possibility of Zelensky’s working with the U.S. government on an investigation into Biden and his son, according to a transcript released by the White House. Later that day, at 6:44 p.m., according to the Budget Committee summary, an OMB career official – Sandy – signed a document formally withholding $250 million in Pentagon funds intended for Ukraine.

After this point, political appointees took over the process of approving the funds. The frozen aid was not released until Sept. 12, after House lawmakers were notified of a whistleblower report regarding the Trump-Zelensky call.

The committee’s report also said the OMB released only a portion of the documents the committee sought in a detailed request to the agency two months ago from Budget Committee Chairman John Yarmuth, D-Ky., and House Appropriations Chairwoman Nita Lowey, D-N.Y.

“After careful review of the materials provided to the committees, the Chairs have become more concerned that the apportionment process has been abused to undermine Congress’s constitutional power of the purse,” the committee report says. “The timeline of actions taken by OMB (as seen in the provided apportionments, which are legally binding documents) suggest a pattern of abuse of the apportionment process, OMB’s authority, and current law.”

The “apportionments” are the documents that the OMB must approve for the U.S. Treasury to release or hold up funds.

The OMB declined to provide an on-the-record response to the committee’s findings, or to Sandy’s testimony.

Sandy’s testimony is the first public confirmation that the dispute at the OMB over handling of the Ukraine aid became so intense that it contributed to resignations from the agency.

Sandy said he voiced concerns within the agency about whether holding up the Ukraine aid comported with the law.

“I just made a general reference to the Impoundment Control Act … and said that we would have to assess that with the advice of counsel before proceeding,” Sandy said in describing a conversation he had with a political appointee at the agency who was his superior.

Ultimately that political appointee, Mike Duffey, took over the process of approving the documents that held up the Ukraine money. Sandy told impeachment investigators that until that time, Duffey had voiced no interest in the process of approving apportionments.

The House of Representatives is controlled by Democrats, and it could impeach Trump with a majority vote. That action is equivalent to indicting the president for a crime. The process would then move to the Senate, which is controlled by Republicans, and it would then hold a trial on the House’s charges. Removing the president from office would require the approval of two-thirds of senators, a threshold few observers think is likely to be met.

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