Vindman Rushes To Defend Biden From GOP Ukraine Attacks

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At a recent event, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) claimed that Ukraine “was the number one donor to Hillary Clinton when she was running for president” — which is, quite simply, not correct in any meaningful sense. Greene appears to have referred to the right-wing conspiracy theory that there was some kind of meaningfully comparable counterpart in Ukraine for Clinton to Russian meddling in U.S. elections on Trump’s behalf, but that’s flat-out deceptive. Ret. Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman said in response to Greene’s remarks that she and other Republican leaders “will have blood on their hands” in the event of a Russian invasion of Ukraine due to their rhetoric providing Putin with a sense that he has an opening for action.

Greene and other Republicans — like Fox News host Tucker Carlson and Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) — have basically been pushing talking points that closely align with Russian President Vladimir Putin’s interests. As Vindman — whose area of expertise includes Ukraine, a policy area in which he worked while part of the National Security Council — put it, discussing Greene and other Republicans:

‘These people and a great deal of the GOP leadership will have blood on their hands. They’re fanning flames, encouraging Putin to attack Ukraine. Putin and his regime perceive opportunities because such fools suggest the U.S. is weak, divided, and distracted.’

Vindman has previously made a similar argument, directly implicating Carlson and Donald Trump himself in helping provide Putin with an opportunity for action. Vindman said that he had “every reason to believe that if we had not had an insurrection on January 6, because of President Trump, President Putin would not believe that there’s an opportunity, there’s a vulnerability in the United States,” adding that “the hyper-polarization that Trump continues to nourish in the United States helps… [Putin] has major talking heads on Fox News, like Tucker Carlson, pandering to his interests, drawing false equivalencies between the U.S. and Russia. Really kind of fanboying over authoritarianism.” While in office, Trump directly capitulated to Russian interests on an array of occasions, from his consistent downplaying of the country’s meddling in U.S. elections to his support for bringing Putin back into the G7 group of world leaders, from which he’d been removed (when it was the G8) specifically because of aggression towards Ukraine.

As for Greene’s conspiracy theories, Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) claimed in one iteration of things back in 2019 that “the fact that Russia was so aggressive does not exclude the fact that [former Ukrainian] President Poroshenko actively worked for Secretary Clinton,” which is not correct. John Prideaux — the U.S. Editor at The Economist, a publication cited by Kennedy as though it supported him — observed that “Poroshenko did not make his feelings secret in Ukraine… But nor did he direct any government agencies to meddle in the 2016 presidential election, which is what Mr. Putin did.” Support for Clinton doesn’t equal a conspiracy to prop up her campaign.

Greene may have had the false right-wing claim in mind that Ukraine had given more money than any other country to the Clinton Foundation — which is not the same thing as the Clinton campaign — but as of 2019 (well after Hillary’s presidential bid), the Ukrainian government apparently had not given that foundation any money at all. Claims otherwise come from a misreading of a chart that showed donors to the foundation by nationality, but large amounts of money coming from someone based in Ukraine do not somehow amount to official donations from the Ukrainian government itself.