Kaptur Remarks at Press Conference on Trump Blocking U.S. Aid to Ukraine

September 25, 2019
Press Release

 

WASHINGTON – Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur (D-OH), Co-Chair of the Congressional Ukraine Caucus, today delivered the following remarks at a House Ukraine Caucus press conference on President Trump’s withholding of vital military and developmental aid from Ukraine and his reported effort to coerce Ukrainian leadership into helping him win reelection:

 

Good afternoon everybody.

 

As Co-Chair of the Congressional Ukraine Caucus, I thank you for being here.

 

The Ukraine Caucus called this press conference today to express our grave concerns regarding President Trump’s withholding of vital aid from Ukraine.

 

According to the highly redacted White House memo released this morning:

 

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said he was “ready to buy more anti-tank missiles” and Trump immediately responded "I would like you to do us a favor though." A favor.

 

This is our President explicitly expecting a favor in return for funds that were passed and appropriated by this Congress – funds meant to assist Ukraine in its defense against sever Russian aggression. Russian aggression that has killed over 13,000 Ukrainians, military and civilian, wounded over 30,000, and displaced upwards of 2 million Ukrainians.  

 

That abuse of power by our president undermines our national security.

 

On July 18, President Trump purposefully directed his administration to withhold nearly 400 million dollars in defense assistance for Ukraine from the State and Defense Department budgets, funds that members of the House have since pushed to release. Members of Congress were told it was part of an interagency delay. In reading the memo today, that does seem to be the case.

 

The President cannot make the release of funds passed and appropriated by the Congress of the United States, surely for national security, contingent on asking a foreign leader for a “favor” prior to the release of those funds.

 

Congress must compel the release of the full whistleblower complaint as it was originally submitted to the Office of Inspector General. The document we were provided today was not a complete transcript of the conversation the president had with President Zelensky. It was about 11 minutes of a conversation that lasted upward of 30 minutes. We want the full transcript. And we must hold executive branch officials in contempt if they refuse to give us the full document.  

 

Congress must uphold its duties as set out in the Constitution. No one is above the law.

 

A livestream of the press conference is available here.

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kaptur.house.gov