On Thursday, the Government Accountability Office ruled that President Donald Trump's administration broke the law by ordering the national park system to remain open during the federal government shutdown in January.
GAO alleges that the Interior Department illegally moved money around between departments to keep the parks open. The agency will brief Congress on which individuals were behind these decisions.
Trump's decision to keep open national parks stood in stark contrast to previous shutdowns, when the parks were closed. Administration officials may have been fearful of a repeat of what happened during the 2013 government shutdown, when furious veterans pushed past the barricade of the World War II memorial in D.C.
While the parks remained open, rangers and other federal employees were furloughed, leading to horrific piles of trash accumulating in some places.
The 35-day shutdown — the longest in government history — was kicked off by the president backing off a bipartisan compromise funding bill and refusing to sign any continuing resolution until Congress appropriated funding for his border wall. The standoff lasted until major U.S. airports started being paralyzed by unpaid air traffic controllers, at which point Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) caved and accepted the original compromise.
Trump subsequently declared a national emergency to divert military funding to construct his border wall anyway, although construction has not started yet.