AMID REPORTS OF WHISTLEBLOWER COMPLAINT, MURPHY RENEWS REQUEST FOR FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE TO INVESTIGATE POTENTIAL TRUMP POLITICAL INTERFERENCE IN UKRAINE

Murphy Asked President Zelesnky Earlier This Month About U.S. Military Aid Link to Trump Political Efforts

WASHINGTON U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), a member of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, on Friday again called on U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman U.S. Senator Jim Risch (R-Idaho) to open an official Senate query on potential Trump political interference in U.S. policy toward Ukraine. Following the withholding of U.S. military aid to Ukraine and amid reports of a whistleblower complaint related to unspecified commitments President Trump made to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, Murphy specifically requested Chairman Risch hold a congressional hearing on this matter immediately. 

Last May when reports broke of Rudy Giuliani traveling to Ukraine to ask the government to officially investigate Hunter Biden, son of former Vice President Joe Biden, Murphy called on Risch to open a Senate query on the matter. Murphy subsequently  blasted the administration’s withholding of U.S. military aid, noting that he hoped it was not being withheld because of non-cooperation with the Trump campaign. Earlier this month, Murphy traveled to Ukraine and was the first U.S. government official to ask Ukrainian President Zelensky directly about the withholding of U.S. military aid and Trump campaign contacts. A readout of Murphy’s trip to Ukraine, Serbia, Kosovo with U.S. Senator Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) can be found here. 

“In May, I officially requested that the Senate Foreign Relations Committee conduct oversight into reports that President Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudolph Giuliani, was meeting with Ukrainian officials in order to influence U.S. elections. New reports about the President’s potential direct involvement in that effort, including reported unspecified commitments made to the President of Ukraine, significantly heighten national security concerns and require that the Committee immediately hold a hearing to investigate these matters and their consequences for U.S. foreign policy,” Murphy wrote. 

“…The Senate Foreign Relations Committee must investigate the significant domestic and global national security implications of a sitting U.S. President either implicitly or explicitly tying U.S. foreign assistance to his political priorities,” Murphy added. 

Murphy concluded, “The Senate Foreign Relations Committee has a direct constitutional responsibility that rises above partisan politics to conduct oversight into these critical national security questions. We must not abdicate that duty. I appreciate your attention to this urgent issue and look forward to discussing the steps necessary for our committee to carry out the appropriate oversight regarding these questions.” 

 

Full text of the letter follows and can be found here. 

The Honorable James E. Risch

Chairman

Committee on Foreign Relations

United States Senate

Washington, DC 20510 

Dear Chairman Risch, 

In May, I officially requested that the Senate Foreign Relations Committee conduct oversight into reports that President Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudolph Giuliani, was meeting with Ukrainian officials in order to influence U.S. elections. New reports about the President’s potential direct involvement in that effort, including reported unspecified commitments made to the President of Ukraine, significantly heighten national security concerns and require that the Committee immediately hold a hearing to investigate these matters and their consequences for U.S. foreign policy. 

I am attaching my original letter, which included a number of specific questions that I believed were essential for the Committee to present to the Administration. In addition to those questions, which remain relevant, there are a number of further questions that require answers. The House and Senate Intelligence Committees will understandably be involved in investigations into the specific Intelligence Community whistleblower complaint. However, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee must investigate the significant domestic and global national security implications of a sitting U.S. President either implicitly or explicitly tying U.S. foreign assistance to his political priorities. I would suggest that the Committee begin an inquiry, including a hearing involving all committee members, regarding the questions raised in my May letter, as well as the following additional questions: 

1.      Was it ever formal U.S. policy to condition the receipt of aid to Ukraine upon Ukraine’s agreement to conduct investigations that would politically advantage the President?

 

2.      When, specifically, was the decision to “review,” i.e., withhold, the Ukraine funding ($250 million in the Pentagon’s Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative and $141.5 million in State Department managed foreign military financing) made, and by what authority was that decision approved? 

 

3.      When the decision to withhold this funding was made, how was it communicated to the Ukrainian government, and by whom? Was the Ukrainian government provided any specific guidance regarding specific conditions that needed to be met before this assistance would be released?  Was the Ukrainian government promised more or less assistance, or any other incentives, based on its responsiveness to Mr. Giuliani’s requests?

 

4.      What are the implications of putting this assistance at risk for Ukraine’s ability to defend itself against Russian aggression and maintain its own territorial sovereignty? Was there an assessment conducted by officials at the Department of Defense or Department of State regarding the potential security implications of withholding this assistance? What are the implications for U.S. interests in the region?

 

5.      Following the reports in May about Mr. Giuliani’s involvement in this effort to pressure the Ukrainian government for political purposes, and the subsequent public backlash, Mr. Giuliani canceled his trip to Ukraine. However, during recent meetings in Kyiv, we learned that Mr. Giuliani has continued to contact the Ukrainian government without informing the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv, forcing President Zelensky’s office to conduct parallel discussions with the Embassy and a separate track with Mr. Giuliani. This has understandably led to confusion about who really speaks for the President. To what extent has this dual-track affected official U.S. policy and interests in Ukraine?

 

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee has a direct constitutional responsibility that rises above partisan politics to conduct oversight into these critical national security questions. We must not abdicate that duty. I appreciate your attention to this urgent issue and look forward to discussing the steps necessary for our committee to carry out the appropriate oversight regarding these questions.

 

Sincerely, 

 

Christopher S. Murphy

United States Senator 

 

CC: Senator Robert Menendez, Ranking Member

 

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