Right-wing podcaster Steve Bannon attacked Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and other GOP senators who traveled to Ukraine on Saturday to meet with the country’s President Volodymyr Zelensky, saying they “must be kicked out “.
McConnell’s surprise visit to Kyiv came as Russian President Vladimir Putin continues his internationally condemned and unprovoked assault on the Eastern European nation. After the full-scale Russian invasion began on Feb. 24, Congress and the White House largely came together in a bipartisan fashion to support Ukraine as it defends itself against Moscow’s aggression.
“Look @ these smiling jesters – our nation is being destroyed and they are going to fuck the ass of a promoter who refuses to take a penny back from the Ukrainian oligarchs,” wrote Bannon, who served as the 2016 campaign’s chief executive. of former President Donald Trump. then as a White House strategist for part of 2017, in a Saturday Gettr post.
“These 4 ‘Senators’ must be expelled – any running senator who supports McConnell must leave,” he added. “40 billion dollars of your money.”
Bannon’s mention of $40 billion was referring to a military aid package already passed by the House of Representatives. The aid is expected to pass through the Senate next week, after GOP Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky withheld it this week. (A video of the late Sen. John McCain saying that Paul worked for Putin garnered renewed attention after Paul’s move.)
GOP Senators John Barrasso of Wyoming, a member of McConnell’s leadership team and Foreign Relations Committee; John Cornyn of Texas, member of the intelligence committee; and Susan Collins of Maine, who serves on the Intelligence and Appropriations Committees, joined the top Senate Republican on the trip. Zelensky welcomed the lawmakers, saying their visit showed “a strong signal of bipartisan support for Ukraine from the United States Congress and the American people.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat from California, made a similar unannounced visit to meet with Zelensky in Ukraine, joined by other Democratic lawmakers on May 1. First Lady Jill Biden also traveled to Ukraine and met Zelensky’s wife on Mother’s Day last Sunday. In late March, President Joe Biden visited Poland and traveled to the Ukrainian border, meeting with Ukrainian refugees fleeing the war.
“Aiding Ukraine is not an example of mere philanthropy – it bears directly on America’s national security and vital interests that Russia’s naked aggression does not succeed and incurs significant costs,” he said. McConnell, a Republican from Kentucky, earlier this week. “If Ukraine fails to repel Russian aggression, there is no doubt that the threat to American and European security will increase.”
The senator also expressed his full support for military assistance to the Eastern European nation.
“I strongly support the next lethal military assistance package, which the House passed with an overwhelming bipartisan majority,” McConnell said Thursday from the Senate. “I hope the Senate can reach an agreement to review and pass this legislation today. Ukrainians need it. We need to do it today.”
Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, a Republican from Georgia and a staunch Trump supporter, took aim at McConnell’s trip to Kyiv in a series of Twitter posts on Saturday morning. The GOP congresswoman interviewed visiting Pelosi and McConnell ‘without body armor/helmets or any fear of the dangers of war, as they eagerly donate billions to fund their proxy war with Russia “.
“If conditions in Ukraine were so dire that they warranted the United States sending $54 billion, then our most senior leaders could not go,” the Republican lawmaker wrote.
Rep. Adam Kinzinger, an Illinois Republican who is also a lieutenant colonel in the Air National Guard, criticized Greene’s assessment.
“Notice MTG has never served, doesn’t understand threat environments, has no idea what it’s talking about, and supports Russia’s war on Ukraine. It’s a chicken,” Kinzinger wrote. , who served in the Iraq War. “Oh and she’s a performer. She literally doesn’t care about politics.”
“I never wore a vest in Iraq unless I was flying. Again, that’s a dummy,” the GOP congressman added.
Despite opposition from some Republicans such as Bannon, Paul and Greene, the majority of GOP voters remain in favor of helping Ukrainians in their fight against Russia. A poll released May 10 by the Pew Research Center showed that more than two-thirds (68%) of Republicans strongly or somewhat support sending military equipment and weapons to Ukraine. More than a third (34%) even said the US was not providing enough support to Ukraine, compared to just 17% who said the level was “too much”.
Newsweek contacted McConnell’s spokesperson for comment.