Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) said Sunday that Democrats including President Joe Biden, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) and Rep. Adam Schiff (Calif.) all are part of the reason that Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine.
“I don’t think Vladimir Putin would have moved on Ukraine were it not for the weakness displayed ― certainly by the Biden administration, but by the West in general,” Johnson said in a Fox News Sunday interview. “I’m certainly hoping that Col. Vindman, Adam Schiff, Nancy Pelosi ― who used Ukraine as a pawn in their impeachment travesty ― are also recognizing and reflecting about how they weakened Ukraine, weakened the West, weakened America by the divisive politics that they play.”
“There’s much blame to go around, but in terms of atrocities, that falls squarely on the shoulders of Vladimir Putin and his cronies,” Johnson added.
Democrats did not randomly bring Ukraine into the 2019 impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump. They were not the ones using the country as a political pawn.
That year, Trump held back almost $400 million in military aid for Ukraine in order to pressure the country’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, to dig up dirt on the Biden family. The money, which was approved by Congress, was intended to help Ukraine fight Russian aggression. Trump finally released the money after pressures from lawmakers in both parties.
Zelenskyy had also desperately sought a meeting with Trump ― which was never granted ― as a show of force against Russia. He finally received his White House meeting last August, with President Joe Biden.
Schiff, chair of the House Intelligence Committee, led the prosecution in the Trump impeachment trial. Col. Alexander Vindman was a top Ukraine expert on the National Security Council at the time, and one of the few people to listen in on Trump’s July 2019 call with Zelenskyy. Vindman’s testimony was a key part of Democrats’ impeachment of Trump.
“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,” Vindman told lawmakers.
Rachel Vindman, Alexander’s wife, tweeted a defense of her husband Sunday, saying Johnson was “the last person anyone would want in their foxhole.” Alexander Vindman retweeted it.
On CNN Sunday, Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) acknowledged what Trump did, calling it “very sad.”
“There are many people who would like to ignore that…This was Zelensky, now a world hero, asking for weapons. And it was an American president slow-walking the provision of those weapons,” he said.
Johnson’s comments are in line with what many other Republicans are saying in response to Putin’s aggression. On one hand, they condemn what the Russian leader is doing ― while saying that Biden and Democrats bear responsibility for being so weak.
Trump himself has repeatedly said that the invasion of Ukraine is happening only because of the “rigged election” ― his lie that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from him. Other Republicans have blamed everything from Biden’s energy policies to his withdrawal from Afghanistan for opening the door to Putin.