House Speaker Nancy Pelosi accused President Donald Trump on Wednesday of undermining United States security by delaying the release of military aid to Ukraine, but former President Barack Obama denied sending lethal weapons altogether following Russia’s 2014 invasion.
During a Capitol Hill news conference, Pelosi stated that Trump’s action put the U.S. at risk and offered it as one of the reasons she launched an impeachment inquiry against him.
“We supported that military assistance in the interest of our national security. Undermining our national security, undermining his oath of office to protect and defend the Constitution because he was overthrowing an act of Congress just on his own,” she said, according to her office’s official transcript.
Trump did delay the aid in mid-July. According to the president, he was waiting to gain assurances from newly sworn-in Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky that his government would take steps to address corruption in the Ukrainian government and try to pressure other European countries to send aid to the former Soviet state.
A little over a month and a half later in mid-September, Trump released the funds at the request of Republican Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio and other lawmakers who stressed how important it was to Ukraine’s security.
So Trump paid out the aid before the end of the fiscal year in which it was authorized.
The release of the funds also came nearly two weeks before a whistleblower story broke about Trump’s alleged quid pro quo request of Zelensky to look into potential wrongdoing by former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden in relation to a Ukrainian natural gas company.
The transcript released by the White House of Trump and Zelensky’s phone call revealed no explicit quid pro quo on Trump’s part.
Additionally, Zelensky told reporters last week at the U.N. that he did not feel pressured by Trump to open an investigation of the Bidens, and a Ukrainian official said no such investigation had been opened.
Concerning the aid itself, if Pelosi truly believes the president somehow threatened the United States’ national security and failed in his duties as commander in chief by the less-than-two-month delay, how much more did Obama do so by refusing to offer Ukraine any lethal military aid at all after Russia invaded Crimea in 2014?
I don’t recall Pelosi accusing Obama of undermining our nation’s security, his oath of office and the Constitution then.
Trump reversed the Obama administration’s policy during his first year in office, allowing lethal weapons including Javelin anti-tank missiles to be sent to Ukraine.
“Col. Andrii Ordynovych, Ukraine’s military attache in Washington, said that when Ukraine’s military began using U.S.-provided Javelin anti-tank weapons, Russian tanks and armored personnel carriers that once operated with devastating impunity had backed off,” Defense News reported.
“That was a strategic deterrence,” Ordynovych said.
On Wednesday, Pelosi specifically charged that Trump jeopardized U.S. security for the sake of his own political interests.
Yet where was she in March 2012, when Obama asked then-outgoing Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, in an infamous hot mic moment, to tell incoming President Vladimir Putin that he would have more flexibility after the U.S. election that fall to negotiate about placement of anti-missile defenses in Poland and Romania?
“This is my last election … After my election I have more flexibility,” Obama said, according to Reuters.
In other words, for the sake of his re-election, he had to appear to be playing hardball with Russia.
The proposed anti-missile systems were meant to protect the United States homeland and our allies from potential Iranian intercontinental ballistic missiles and other rogue actors.
Neither Pelosi nor leaders in the Republican-controlled Congress pushed for Obama’s impeachment.
He engaged in a quid pro quo: If Putin does not push me on deployment of anti-missile defenses now, I promise I can give him a better outcome for Russia after I’m re-elected.
Was this weakness Obama displayed toward Putin a reason the Russian leader felt he could invade Ukraine with impunity?
Perhaps Putin’s belief that there would be no response from the U.S. was only strengthened when Syria crossed Obama’s “red line” regarding the use of chemical weapons in August 2013.
Russia invaded Ukraine six months later.
For the record, Obama eventually reversed course and completed the construction of an anti-missile defense site in Romania, which became operational in 2016, and began construction on a site in Poland that same year.
Pelosi’s claim that Trump jeopardized U.S. security and shirked his constitutional duties by delaying aid to Ukraine is just silly on its face. That she has cited it as a reason he should be impeached is even more egregious.
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