Ukraine Funding a Predicate to Trump Impeachment

The Ukraine funding bill poised to pass the Senate could be used as a predicate to impeach Donald Trump should he win a second term, Sen. JD Vance, R-Ohio, argued Monday. 

Vance joined a forum on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter, along with Sens. Mike Lee, R-Utah, Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., and others. 

Over the weekend, with 18 Republicans joining the Democrat majority, the Senate moved to close debate and go to a vote on a $95 billion supplemental spending bill for Ukraine, which is defending itself from Russia’s invasion, and Israel, which is attempting to eradicate Hamas after its Oct. 7 terrorist attacks.

About $61 billion of aid would go to Ukraine and $14 billion for Israel. 

“There is actually a very good argument that the exact same legal justification for the impeachment of 2019 would hold with this legislation,” Vance said of Trump’s impeachment by a Democrat-run House over his phone call to Ukraine’s president.

Vance referenced a recent Washington Post story that said: “Not incidentally, a U.S. official said, the hope is that the long-term promise—again assuming congressional buy-in—will also ‘future-proof’ aid for Ukraine against the possibility that former President Donald Trump wins his reelection bid.”

“The funding for Ukraine doesn’t just extend into 2024, it extends into 2025 and arguably even 2026,” Vance said of the bill. “By the admission of administration officials, it would explicitly tie the hands of the next president of the United States and force that president to continue funneling weapons and resources for Ukraine instead of negotiating a settlement.”

In 2019, the Democrat-controlled House impeached Trump for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress in connection with his phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy about the potentially corrupt actions of Trump’s then-likely reelection opponent Joe Biden and his son, Hunter Biden. 

As president, Biden supports continued funding for Ukraine—arguing that Russia must be prevented from further aggression. By contrast, Trump has said that if elected, he would negotiate a peaceful resolution between Ukraine and Russia. 

“He will have a diplomatic agenda that would be directly thwarted by this legislation,” Vance said of Trump. “If he didn’t send the money to Ukraine—as is currently required by this legislation—it would establish a predicate that is exactly the same as the predicate in the 2019 articles of impeachment.”

Other senators argued on the X forum that U.S. aid to Ukraine so far has been subject to little accountability. 

“The fact that we would do this without putting an inspector general in place specifically for this and adopting all sorts of other transparency, auditability provisions turns a blind eye to corruption,” Lee said.

The Utah Republican added: “When you give them about $8 billion to pay their civil servants, their bureaucracy, and you don’t put any restrictions on their ability to use it for salaries, or to use it for backing up the Ukrainian welfare system, or to use it for handouts to favored companies like clothing stores and sellers of concert tickets, you know that it’s going to continue.”

Johnson argued that the Biden administration seems to have no clear strategy in the Russia-Ukraine war beyond increasing military funding for Ukraine. 

“One of the depraved justifications for all the spending is that it’s really not going over to Ukraine, it’s helping to build our industrial base, and so it’s creating jobs in your state,” Johnson said. 

The Wisconsin Republican stressed that his opposition to more aid for Ukraine is not support for Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“The only way this war ends is in a settlement, and every day the war goes on more Ukrainians, more Russian conscripts, die, more civilians die, the more Ukraine gets destroyed,” Johnson said. “As evil as a war criminal [as] Putin is, he’s not going to lose this war. Our colleagues here are just not going to accept that reality and are living in a fantasy world.”

X owner Elon Musk and fellow entrepreneurs David Sacks and Vivek Ramaswamy, the latter until recently a GOP presidential candidate, were also part of the forum.

Ramaswamy, who now supports Trump in November’s presidential election, complained about “planting the seeds for the next impeachment.”

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., was among the 18 Republicans who joined Democrats to advance the funding package supported by Biden. 

“It is no exaggeration to say that the eyes of the world are on the United States Senate,” McConnell said Sunday in a floor speech. “Our allies and partners are hoping that the indispensable nation—the leader of the free world—has the resolve to continue. And our adversaries are hoping for something quite different. Friends and foes alike, pay close attention to what we say here and how we vote. Because American leadership matters, and it is in question.”

Musk reiterated that skepticism about more U.S. funding for Ukraine is not support for Putin. 

“When I’ve raised this point, people have accused me of being some Putin apologist,” Musk said. “My company has probably done more to undermine Russia than anybody. Space X has taken away two-thirds of the Russian launch business. Starlink has overwhelmingly helped Ukraine.”

Musk owns both enterprises, as well as X and automaker Tesla.

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