Posts tagged with "Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky"

McCarthy rejects Zelensky’s invitation to Ukraine

March 9, 2023

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has invited House Speaker Kevin McCarthy to visit the embattled nation amid his hesitancy to greenlight aid—a request the California Republican quickly shut down this week, reports Politico.

“He has to come here to see how we work, what’s happening here, what war caused us, which people are fighting now, who are fighting now. And then after that, make your assumptions,” Zelensky told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer in an interview.

When informed about the Ukrainian invitation, the Speaker told CNN that he would not take the trip and blamed the Biden Administration for not acting quickly enough to aid Ukraine. Still, McCarthy held his position that the United States should not be sending a “blank check” to Kyiv, repeating a position he initially made last fall that sparked uproar from members of both parties.

“Let’s be very clear about what I said: no blank checks, OK? So, from that perspective, I don’t have to go to Ukraine to understand where there’s a blank check or not,” McCarthy told CNN. “I will continue to get my briefings and others, but I don’t have to go to Ukraine or Kyiv to see it. And my point has always been, I won’t provide a blank check for anything.”

McCarthy’s remarks addressed Zelensky’s comments in the interview about Democrats and Republicans who have visited and seen “the supply routes, every shell, every bullet, every dollar.”

“I think that Speaker McCarthy, he never visited Kyiv or Ukraine, and I think it would help him with his position,” Zelensky said.

On February 20, President Joe Biden made a surprise visit o Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine, his first since the beginning of the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Research contact: @politico

In daring trip to D.C., Zelensky expected to meet with Biden and address Congress

December 22, 2022

On Wednesday, December 21, President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine was expected to meet with President Biden at the White House on and later deliver a prime-time address to a joint session of Congress—a daring trip abroad intended to reaffirm American support for his country, White House officials announced late Tuesday night, according to a report by The New York Times.

“Three hundred days ago, Russia launched a brutal assault against Ukraine,” Karine Jean-Pierre, the White House press secretary, said in a statement confirming Zelensky’s trip to Washington. “The visit will underscore the United States’ steadfast commitment to supporting Ukraine for as long as it takes, including through the provision of economic, humanitarian and military assistance.”

Senior administration officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of concerns about Zelensky’s safety, said the risks involved in such a visit—with the wartime leader leaving his country for the first time since Russia invaded Ukraine in February—were high, and that planning for his arrival had been conducted under intense secrecy.

Zelensky was scheduled to arrive in the United States nearly ten months after President Vladimir Putin ordered Russian troops into Ukraine and as Congress considers approving nearly $50 billion in aid to help Ukraine’s forces battle Russia next year. That would bring the total amount of American aid to more than $100 billion.

“He’s a national and global hero — I’m delighted to be able to hear from him,” Senator Mitt Romney, Republican of Utah, said Tuesday after hearing of Zelensky’s visit.

The Ukrainian president’s trip comes as Russia’s assault heads into a second, brutal year. Russia’s hopes for a quick defeat of Ukraine failed, but have given way to a series of grinding and devastating attacks on civilians that have left major cities without heat or electricity in the bitter cold of Ukraine’s winter.

During his meeting with Biden at the White House, Zelensky is set to accept the latest American pledge of military assistance: a highly sophisticated Patriot missile battery that senior administration officials said would provide Ukraine with far better defenses against air attacks from Russian missiles and drones. The missile battery will be part of a nearly $2 billion package of security assistance that also will include other support for Ukraine’s air defenses.

White House officials said the announcement of the new security package by the American president —with Zelensky by his side—was meant to send a powerful message to Putin and other world leaders, along with people in Ukraine and America, that Biden would not waver in his efforts to help Ukraine defeat its Russian aggressors.

In her statement Tuesday night, Jean-Pierre said the meeting of the two leaders would “underscore the United States’ enduring commitment to Ukraine” and was part of a continuing effort by Biden to rally “the world to support the people of Ukraine as they defend their sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

A senior administration official said that Biden would not come to the meeting on Wednesday “with a message that is about pushing or prodding or poking Zelensky in any way” toward finding a diplomatic end to the war with Russia. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the trip had not been formally announced, said Russia had given no indication it was willing to engage in good-faith talks about ending the war.

But the official also said that  Biden would not allow the United States to be drawn into an active war with Russia on Ukraine’s behalf, a pledge the president had made before Russian forces entered Ukraine at the end of February.

After meeting with Biden and members of his national security team, Zelensky is expected to hold a news conference at the White House, officials said.

He will then head to Capitol Hill for what is likely to be an electrifying appearancev before a joint session of Congress as Democratic control of the House—and the reign of Representative Nancy Pelosi of California as speaker—nears its end.

While Biden has vowed to continue his support “for as long as it takes,” he faces some resistance in Congress, where Republicans are poised to take control of the House on January 3. Just hours before news of Zelensky’s visit broke, Republican leaders in that chamber had instructed rank-and-file lawmakers to oppose a roughly $1.7 trillion spending bill that includes the Ukraine aid.

Some Republicans in the House have repeatedly opposed previous packages that sent billions of dollars in military and humanitarian aid to Ukraine, suggesting the money is wasteful or better spent in the United States.

The spending bill, including the funding for Ukraine, is expected to clear Congress by the end of the week, although votes for final passage have not yet been scheduled.

Zelensky’s trip to the United States was set in motion nine days ago during a telephone call between the two leaders, a senior administration official said. The White House formally invited Zelensky a week ago and plans for a speech to Congress began in earnest on Sunday, when the government of Ukraine confirmed his intention to travel to the United States.

Research contact: @nytimes

One and done: Representative Madison Cawthorn loses North Carolina GOP primary

May 19, 2022

It’s one term and done for controversial Representative Madison Cawthorn. The 26-year-old right-wing firebrand was beaten by North Carolina State Senator Chuck Edwards in the May 17 Republican primary contest for the right to represent the solid-red 11th Congressional District, reports the New York Post.

Edwards topped the embattled Cawthorn by a razor-thin margin Tuesday, with 33% of the vote over Cawthorn’s 31%. Edwards, who called himself a Washington outsider, cleared the 30% threshold needed to avoid a July runoff—and Cawthorn has conceded.

According to the Post, Cawthorn had drawn the ire of his fellow Republicans over several controversial statements—including claims that lawmakers had invited him to orgies and snorted cocaine in front of him.

Cawthorn was viewed as a rising star in the GOP when he won the election in 2020 to replace then-Trump White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, but a series of public missteps dogged his first term in office.

In March, Cawthorn called Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky a “thug” in charge of an “incredibly evil” government. The lawmaker was also twice arrested trying to carry a gun on an airplane and has been accused by a former aide of denying her emergency leave after her husband suffered a heart attack.

But what really outraged Cawthorn’s Capitol Hill colleagues were comments he made on a podcast in late March that likened Congress to the fictional TV series “House of Cards.”

“The sexual perversion that goes on in Washington, I mean, being kind of a young guy in Washington, where the average age is probably 60 or 70—[you] look at all these people, a lot of them that I’ve looked up to through my life … Then all of a sudden you get invited. ‘We’re going to have a sexual get-together at one of our homes, you should come.’

“‘What did you just ask me to come to?’ And then you realize they’re asking you to come to an orgy,” he said, later adding: “You watch them do a bump of cocaine right in front of you, and it’s like, ‘This is wild.’”

That earned Cawthorn a scolding from House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-California), who told reporters the North Carolinian had “lost my trust” and would “have to earn it back.”

One Republican who stuck by Cawthorn was former President Donald Trump, who issued a special appeal Tuesday on his Truth Social platform.

“When Madison was first elected to Congress, he did a great job,” the 45th president wrote. “Recently, he made some foolish mistakes, which I don’t believe he’ll make again … let’s give Madison a second chance.”

Research contact: @nypost

Hear no evil? NSC official who heard July 25 Ukraine call testifies Trump undermined US security

October 30, 2019

A senior White House official who currently oversees Ukraine policy—and who previously served 20 years as an active-duty U.S. military officer and a diplomat—told House impeachment investigators on Tuesday that he believes President Donald Trump undermined U.S. national security when he appealed to Ukraine’s president to investigate his political rivals, according to a copy of his opening statement obtained by Politico.

“I did not think it was proper to demand that a foreign government investigate a U.S. citizen, and I was worried about the implications for the U.S. government’s support of Ukraine,” Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, a National Security Council official, told investigators, referring to Trump’s efforts to pressure Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to announce probes into Joe Biden and his son, Hunter Biden.

Vindman, who became the first White House official to testify as part of the impeachment inquiry, also said he reported Trump’s July 25 phone call with Zelensky to the NSC’s top lawyer after listening in on the conversation from the White House situation room alongside other U.S. national security officials.

Politico revealed, this was the second time Vindman had raised concerns to the NSC’s lead counsel about a campaign by Trump, his associates, and some U.S. officials to pressure Ukraine to launch investigations intended to benefit Trump politically.

“I realized that if Ukraine pursued an investigation into the Bidens and [Ukrainian gas company] Burisma, it would likely be interpreted as a partisan play which would undoubtedly result in Ukraine losing the bipartisan support it has thus far maintained,” Vindman said.

“This would all undermine U.S. national security,” Vindman added. “Following the call, I again reported my concerns to NSC’s lead counsel.”

In his appearance before House investigators on October 29, Vindman became the first official who listened in directly on Trump’s phone call with Zelensky to speak with investigators, providing a firsthand account of what House Democrats have said is a blatant abuse of power by the president. His opening statement leans heavily on his military service and a “sense of duty” to his country.

“I am a patriot, and it is my sacred duty and honor to advance and defend our country, irrespective of party or politics,” Vindman wrote in his opening statement.

“As an active duty military officer, the command structure is extremely important to me,” Vindman said, defending his decisions to express his concerns about Trump to his higher-ups. “On many occasions I have been told I should express my views and share my concerns with my chain of command and proper authorities.”

Ahead of Vindman’s testimony, Trump railed against the senior official on Twitter, calling him a “Never Trumper” and saying he “never even heard of” Vindman.

The Trump-Zelensky phone call is at the center of House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry, Politico noted. Investigators have gathered evidence that Trump sought to withhold nearly $400 million of critical military aid to Ukraine and refuse a White House meeting with Zelensky until the Ukrainian leader publicly stated his intention to launch Trump’s desired investigations.

Research contact: @politico

Weekend curveball: New whistleblower(s)

October 8, 2019

President Donald Trump got bushwacked again last weekend—this time, as a “new whistleblower,” came forward, also being represented by Mark Zaid and Andrew Bakaj, the lawyers for the original whistleblower, according to CNN’s Jake Tapper, Pamela Brown and Zachary Cohen.

The new witness is said to have   first-hand knowledge that supports the claims of the initial whistleblower, and to have been on the line during the July 25 call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

If this is the case, it would , it totally undermine the main defense that has been used to date by Republicans—that all information was secondhand in the original whistleblower complaint.

CNN reports that the new whistleblower works in the intelligence community and that he or she already has spoken to the intelligence community’s inspector general.

The individual has not filed another complaint, but the lawyers argue anyone who speaks to the intelligence community watchdog is considered to have made a protected disclosure, and is a whistleblower under law.

According to the cable news outlet, Zaid has acknowledged a second whistleblower and his partner, Andrew Bakaj, described “multiple” whistleblowers in a tweet Sunday, but will not specify if that is more than the two we now know.

Bakaj: “I can confirm that my firm and my team represent multiple whistleblowers in connection to the underlying August 12, 2019, disclosure to the intelligence community inspector general. No further comment at this time.”

Research contact: @CNN