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Trump’s impeachment trials in Ukraine are shadowing the war and risking a GOP response

WASHINGTONWhen President Donald Trump was impeached Late 2019 after printing Leaders of Ukraine for ‘a favor’ While he withheld $400 million in military aid to counter Russian-backed separatists, even the most staunch defensive hawks in the Republican Party were virtually united at Trump’s side.

but Russian President Vladimir Putin’s military marched towards Kyiv In that February that threatened not only Ukraine but the rest of Europe, Republicans and Democrats in Congress ditched impeachment policy, rallied to Ukraine’s side and quickly dispatched billion in defense of President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

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The question ahead of how Ukrainians fight Russia’s grueling invasion is now into its 100th daywhether the rare bipartisanship on Capitol Hill is resilient enough to withstand Trump’s isolationist influences on his party, or whether Republicans who have caved in to Trump’s “America First” approach are doing so again, jeopardizing military and humanitarian support to Ukraine will.

“Perhaps there is a recognition on both the Republican and Democratic sides that this security assistance is very important,” said Bill Taylor. a former ambassador to Ukrainesaid in a recent interview with The Associated Press.

“And maybe neither side is keen to crack this coalition.”

The strained partisan politics comes at a crucial moment as the Russian invasion drags on and the United States finds itself more deeply at odds ahead of the November election, when lawmakers face voters and control of Congress is at stake.

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New poll from The Associated Press shows US public support for punishing Russia for the war fluctuates when it is at the expense of the economy.

While Congress rallied rare and robust bipartisan support to approve a $40 billion package for Ukraine, bringing total U.S. support since the start of the war to a staggering $53 billion, opposition to the latest round of aid came entirely from Republicans side, including Trump.

That is a warning sign of the robustness of the bipartisan coalition that the top congressional Republican, Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, was trying to shore up when he led a delegation of GOP senators to stand by Zelenskyy a surprise trip to Kyiv last month.

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“There are some isolationist sentiments in my party that I think are wrong, and I wanted to address that,” McConnell told an audience in Kentucky last week, explaining his visit to Ukraine.

Divisions within the GOP over Ukraine are routinely fueled by Trump, who initially hailed Putin’s invasion of Ukraine as an “ingenious” negotiating strategy. Trump has repeatedly spoken out against US aid to Ukraine, including at a rally in Wyoming last weekend. Ahead of the Senate vote on $40 billion in assistance, Trump condemned the idea of ​​spending abroad while America’s “parents fight”.

As Trump ponders whether to run for the White House in 2024, the persistence of his “America First” foreign policy approach leaves questions about the durability of his party’s commitment to US support for a democratic Ukraine. Senators are poised to vote to add Sweden and Finland to NATO this summer, but Trump has repeatedly criticized US spending on the western military alliance

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Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri, one of 11 Republican senators who voted against the Ukraine package, called the tally an “astronomical number” at a time when foreign policy should focus on other things, including China.

“It’s kind of a nation-building number,” Hawley said in an interview. “And I think it’s a mistake.”

Almost three years ago, Ukraine was at the center of US politics Trump’s 2019 impeachment trial that rocked Washington.

Zelenskky, a comedian-turned-politicianhad just been elected when he requested a meeting with Trump during a July 25, 2019, phone call to strengthen U.S.-Ukraine ties and secure military aid, according to a transcript released by Trump’s White House.

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“We are almost ready to buy more spears from the United States for defense purposes,” Zelenskyy told Trump, referring to anti-tank weapons Ukraine depends on from the West.

Trump replied: “But I want you to do us a favor.”

Trump asked Zelenskyj to investigate Joe Bidenthen a major competitor of Trump’s Democrats and now the American President, and Biden’s son Hunter, who served on the board of a Ukrainian gas company.

The impeachment investigation, sparked by a government whistleblower’s complaint about Trump’s call, quickly became a landmark, the first in a generation since Democrat Bill Clinton was charged with an affair with a White House intern.

During the week-long impeachment trial over Ukraine, witnesses across national security and the field service have testified under oath that alarms have been raised in Washington and Kyiv over Trump’s talk with Zelenskyy.

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Complicated stories surfaced about Trump allies scrambling to secure the Bidens’ investigation — and about the officials fighting back what they saw as a violation of protocol.

However, American opinions on the seriousness of the charges against Trump were mixed, AP polls at the time showed.

Trump was impeached by the Democratic-led House of Representatives and acquitted by the Senate, with only one Republican, Utah Senator Mitt Romney, joining the Democrats to convict him.

“The allegations were all about horse hockey,” said Rep. Morgan Griffith, R-Va., recalling his decision not to pursue impeachment.

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., brushed off questions about whether Trump’s actions then played any role in Russia’s decision to invade Ukraine this February.

“It wasn’t like Putin invaded right after. It’s been almost two years,” Rubio said.

Republicans are quick to recall that Trump was, in fact, the first president to allow lethal arms shipments into Ukraine — something Barack Obama’s administration, with Biden as vice president, balked at for fear of provoking Putin.

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Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, the co-chair of Ukraine’s Senate caucus, who in a phone call persuaded Trump to eventually release the $400 billion in aid, stood by his decision not to call Trump over the delay in that aid to condemn.

“As long as it was made,” Portman said of the result.

But Romney said people must remain “clear in their eyes” about the threat Putin poses to the world order. “I did the right thing at the time and I have no regrets,” he said.

The Democrats are criticizing the Republicans for the impeachment verdict.

“It’s a shame,” said Sen. Bob Menendez, DN.J., chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

“Every single Republican who voted for Donald Trump’s geopolitical shakedown and blackmail of Volodymyr Zelenskky and the Ukrainian people should be ashamed,” said Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, DN.Y., “because the consequences of Donald Trump’s actions were understood by us.” then, and now the world understands.”

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Follow AP’s coverage of Ukraine-Russia tensions at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, transcribed or redistributed without permission.

https://www.local10.com/news/politics/2022/06/05/trumps-ukraine-impeachment-shadows-war-risks-gop-response/ Trump’s impeachment trials in Ukraine are shadowing the war and risking a GOP response

Sarah Y. Kim

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