Whereas most administrations put a career budget official with years or even decades of experience in charge of releasing appropriated funds, the Trump administration placed a politically appointed novice in the position after career civil servants balked at the delay in releasing military aid to Ukraine.
Initially, career staff members at the Office of Management and Budget placed a hold on the Ukraine funding, according to The Wall Street Journal. But when they started to question the legality of holding congressionally appropriated funds for no justifiable reason, the acting OMB director Russell Vought delegated that authority to Michael Duffey, associate director of national security programs in the OMB, because he was “new to the job and wanted more insight into the apportionment process.” Duffey’s other qualifications for the role included being a former Pentagon official, a political appointee, and former executive director of the Wisconsin Republican Party.
But just like every other thing the Trump administration does, granting that authority to a political appointee rather than to an experienced staff member at the budget office is a total aberration from how things normally work. Several House committees are now investigating the handling of the funds, sending subpoenas to both OMB’s Vought and Secretary of Defense Mark Esper.
Whatever the reason for the hold-up in releasing those funds, such as extortion of Ukraine, many career diplomats were clearly frustrated by the inexplicable delay and didn’t think it was in the nation’s best interests.