David Cameron has said that the continued US failure to supply arms to Ukraine would undermine its own security, strengthen China and cast doubt on America’s reliability as an ally around the world.The UK foreign secretary, who attended the G20 meeting in Brazil earlier in the week, admitted that the effort to rally global support for the Ukrainian cause had been “damaged” by the fact that neither the US nor the UK had voted for a UN resolution calling for a ceasefire in Gaza. But he argued the damage had been mitigated by the UK’s clarification of its position.Cameron was speaking in New York on the second anniversary of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine at a time when the Republican speaker of the House of Representatives, Mike Johnson, is blocking a substantial package of military aid to Kyiv, leading to a severe ammunition shortage for Ukrainian troops.The foreign secretary was flanked by his German and Polish counterparts, Annalena Baerbock and Radek Sikorski, who made their own calls for US supplies to be resumed at a meeting organised in New York by the Wall Street Journal ahead of a UN security council meeting on Ukraine on Friday afternoon.Earlier in the day, Joe Biden had announced 500 new sanctions on Russia and a further 100 entities around the world for providing support to Russia, in an effort to squeeze Moscow’s revenues. But the foreign ministers made clear that arms supplies were the key in the struggle with Russia in Ukraine.Cameron sought to frame his argument in terms of competition with China, one of the few issues that unites Republicans and Democrats in the US Congress.“I know that lots of people in Congress are hugely concerned about the role of China and if you’re concerned about the role of China, you must make sure that Putin doesn’t win,” he said.He added that Beijing was enjoying “the fact that we’re, we’re not as united as we should be. I think that’s why the American package is so important.”In its relations with countries around the world, Cameron argued, China was saying “come have a relationship with us. America isn’t reliable.”The end of US military support to Ukraine, he added “would strengthen that argument they make in an enormous way”.Baerbock said the blockage of US aid “will be the biggest gift for Putin and will be the biggest gift for China”.“The Ukrainians are fighting like lions, but you cannot fight with bare hands,” Sikorski said. “They are running out of ammunition for anti-aircraft missiles that are protecting cities and when soldiers don’t have artillery shells, they have to do close combat fighting. That means that Ukrainian casualties are greater.”The European ministers face an uphill task persuading a Republican congressional leadership that is under the powerful sway of Donald Trump, an opponent of Ukrainian aid, and also resistant to allied pressure. Marjorie Taylor Greene, a far-right Republican congresswoman, responded to an earlier effort by Cameron to persuade Congress in Ukraine’s favour that the foreign secretary could “kiss my ass”.“I’m not trying to lecture or tell American congressmen what to do,” Cameron insisted on Friday. “I love my own country but I love America too. I think this is really important for America, for American security.”He admitted that the Israel-Hamas war in Gaza and western positions on the conflict had complicated efforts to build global solidarity against Russia. Earlier this week, the US vetoed a UN security council resolution calling for an immediate ceasefire for the third time, and the UK abstained.“The fact that we haven’t signed up for some of these resolutions and what have you, it does do some damage. There is no doubt about that,” Cameron said. “But I think when you explain how we really want to stop the fighting right now and have got a plan to do it, I think that helps to build some faith between the Arab world and what foreign ministers like myself and others say.”As European ministers sought to change minds in the Republican party, Volodymyr Zelenskiy held talks with a US congressional delegation in Lviv. The group – led by the Senate majority leader, Chuck Schumer – said it wanted to show that the US had not abandoned “the Ukrainian people”, or its Nato allies in Europe.Schumer said he and his fellow Democrats would “not stop fighting” until $61bn in military funding for Ukraine was delivered. House Republicans are currently blocking the assistance package, despite a 64-19 Senate vote in favour.View image in fullscreen“We believe we are at an inflection point in history and we must make it clear to our friends and allies around the globe that the US does not back away from our responsibilities,” Schumer said. The consequences of walking away would be “severe”, he warned, saying he would “make this clear” to the Republican speaker and to others obstructing aid back in Washington.Schumer told the Associated Press opposition to the national security package “may be the view of Donald Trump and some of the hard-right zealots. But it is not the view of the American people, and I don’t think it’s the view of the majority of people in the House or Senate.”Ukrainian commanders say with no new US weapons deliveries they are facing serious problems on the battlefield. They say that Ukrainian soldiers were forced to withdraw from the eastern city of Avdiivka last week because of an acute shortage of shells and ammunition. Further Russian gains were likely if no more aid arrived, they admitted.Ukraine is also running out of western-supplied interceptor missiles. A Russian drone strike killed three people early on Friday in the Black Sea port of Odesa, the regional governor, Oleh Kiper, said. Ukrainian air defences were only able to shoot down 23 out of 31 drones – a significantly lower number than in attacks last year.Earlier in Lviv Zelenskiy met with Denmark’s prime minister, Mette Frederiksen. The country has been one of Ukraine’s staunchest European allies. Frederiksen recently pledged to give all of Denmark’s artillery reserves to Ukraine and on Friday signed a long-term security agreement with Kyiv. It envisages giving €1.8bn ($1.9bn) in support.The two leaders visited Lviv’s Lychakiv cemetery and laid flowers at the grave of a Ukrainian soldier. Many hundreds of service personnel have been buried there since Russia’s full-scale invasion two years ago. More
Republican US senator Tommy Tuberville of Alabama seemingly struggled to grasp the contradictory situation women have been placed in after his state’s supreme court ruled that frozen embryos are children.Asked at a conservative conference on Thursday what he would say to women currently denied the fertility treatment, the former college football coach replied: “Yeah, I was all for it. We need to have more kids, we need to have an opportunity to do that, and I thought this was the right thing to do.”But then when he was pressed on whether the ruling would negatively affect people who are trying to have conceive, Tuberville said: “Well, that’s, that’s for another conversation. I think the big thing is right now, you protect – you go back to the situation and try to work it out to where it’s best for everybody. I mean, that’s what – that’s what the whole abortion issue is about.”As a result of the ruling in question in Alabama, at least three IVF providers in the state have suspended services.“That’s a hard one,” Tuberville said when asked about IVF availability in Alabama. “It really is.”Tuberville said: “I’d have to look at what they’re agreeing to and not agreeing to. I haven’t seen that.”But he said that it was “unfortunate” if the women would not be denied the procedure.Tuberville’s spokesperson Hannah Eddins later sought to clarify the senator’s remarks, saying he had been “emphasizing his support for life at all stages”.“In addition to being pro-life and believing life begins at conception, Senator Tuberville is also pro-family,” Eddins said. “He believes strong families are instrumental to our country’s success.”Eddins added that Tuberville was “in no way” supporting the decision by clinics to halt IVF procedures.skip past newsletter promotionafter newsletter promotionThe Alabama court’s decision, released earlier this week, came in response to a lawsuit by a group of IVF patients whose frozen embryos were destroyed in December 2020 when a patient removed the embryos from a cryogenic storage unit and dropped them on the ground.With the ruling, Republican anti-abortion politicians are now in a bind between opposing abortion and supporting treatments that promote conception.Tuberville’s spokesperson said that the senator supported the US supreme court’s ruling that overturned the federal abortion right previously established by Roe v Wade. The court’s decision returned the issue of abortion rights back to individual states, many of which have outlawed the procedure in most cases.Tuberville’s remarks on Thursday came after his decision in December to end a months-long blockade of US military promotions over his opposition to a Pentagon policy that facilitates abortions for service members and dependents. More
In her quest to win an election, the Arizona Republican US Senate candidate Kari Lake is trying to win back the voters she alienated in her last run, when she lost the 2022 gubernatorial race to a Democrat.And Meghan McCain, the daughter of the late Arizona senator John McCain, whose name is near-synonymous with the state’s political history, is not letting Lake off the hook.Lake’s attempt to win back voters includes reaching out to the family and allies of John McCain, who held the Senate seat in Arizona for decades and left an indelible mark on the state’s politics.When Lake ran for governor, she said her win in the Republican primary in 2022 had driven a “stake through the heart of the McCain machine” – a nod to the political apparatus McCain built up over his time in office.She also condemned the more moderate branch of the party, the McCain Republicans, and told them to “get the hell out”. She walked back the comment during a radio interview on Monday, where she said she was joking and that John McCain “would have laughed” about it.McCain’s daughter, Meghan McCain, hit back hard at Lake after the interview, calling out the attempt to walk back the attack.“Guess she realized she can’t become a Senator without us,” Meghan McCain wrote on X. “No peace, bitch. We see you for who you are – and are repulsed by it.”Lake then came back to Meghan McCain with a long entreaty, calling to mind her own father’s death from cancer and the fact that the two women are both mothers.“Our movement to save Arizona & America is growing, and it’s Mama Bears like us who are leading the charge – ALL Moms want the same thing: to leave our children a better America than the one we had,” Lake wrote to Meghan McCain on X.Lake invited Meghan McCain for a beer, coffee or lunch so that she could “pick [her] brain about how we can work together to strengthen our state” and said her team would be reaching out with Lake’s contact information. “If you’re willing to meet, it would mean a lot to me,” Lake concluded.“NO PEACE, BITCH!” Meghan McCain reiterated in a response to Lake’s offer to meet.The online spat speaks to a larger problem Lake faces in her return to the campaign trail: she swung too far right for the state’s purpling electorate, and she now is attempting to look more moderate.A Lake campaign account responded to the brush-off with a note that “All Kari can do is extend the olive branch” and that the Republican candidate would keep trying. “If you refuse to take it, that’s your call,” the Lake war room account wrote. “This kind of blind anger is not conducive to bringing Arizona together.”“I breathe fire for my family and never forgive those who have trashed any of us – particularly my Dad in death,” Meghan McCain wrote in a follow-up post on X. “Never.” More
Larry Hogan, the Republican candidate for US Senate in Maryland who says he doesn’t really want to be a US senator but is running anyway, is tied with or leads his possible Democratic opponents, according to a poll released on Thursday.The former governor of Maryland leads Angela Alsobrooks, a state politician, by seven points in a hypothetical matchup and ties at 42% support with the US congressman David Trone, in a poll by Emerson College, the Hill and DC News Now.Governor from 2015 to 2023, Hogan left office as a popular moderate Republican in an otherwise generally Democratic state. Opposing Donald Trump’s grip on his party, and flirting with a third-party presidential run, Hogan repeatedly said he did not want to succeed the Democrat Ben Cardin in the Senate after Cardin retires next year.Last week, Hogan said he would run after all.Last May, Hogan said he did not “have a burning desire to be a senator”, would find sitting in the Senate “really frustrating on a personal human level”, thought being a senator was “not where my skill set lies” and said that although he could win a seat, “the problem was I would win and I would have to go be a senator”.On Wednesday he told CNN “not much” had changed.“I still feel exactly the same way,” he said. “Not a lot gets done in Washington. Who in their right mind would want to go in and be a part of that divisiveness and dysfunction? I said I wasn’t going to walk away from politics, I was going to try to be a voice, standing up to try to fix things, and you can’t just sit back and complain about things if you’re not willing to try to make a difference.“Still personally, there’s not a burning desire to go be a senator … I’m only doing it because I think I have a unique voice and perspective.”Hogan also said he only decided to run “a week ago, after the debacle that took place on the Senate floor”, when Republicans sank a border and immigration deal they themselves helped draft apparently in part because Trump told them to do so.The poll noted that Hogan also holds broad appeal in a matchup against Trone among independents, at 48%, and would attract the support of nearly a quarter of Democratic voters.Hogan was therefore a prized target for Mitch McConnell, the Republican Senate minority leader, who is seeking to take control of the chamber in November.“In Maryland I won huge numbers of suburban women and Black voters,” Hogan told CNN. “I have been able to reach out to people across the spectrum.”Asked about appealing to such voters while on a Republican ticket headed by Trump, Hogan said: “It’s a big challenge. Maryland is the most Democratic state in the country. But I’m not running as Donald Trump … I’m not running for the Republican party or for any candidate for president. I decided to run to kind of stand up and fight for the people of Maryland, and stand against the broken politics in Washington.”Hogan has held positions that could reduce his bipartisan appeal. Asked on CNN about his record on abortion – an issue that has fueled Democratic victories since the US supreme court removed the federal right in 2022 – Hogan said he was a moderate.“I’m personally not a proponent of abortion,” he said, “but I said I’m not going to take away that right for others to make that decision for themselves.”Calling Democratic attacks on the issue “tired”, Hogan said that as a senator, he would not vote for a national abortion ban.“I understand why this is such an important and emotional issue for women across Maryland and across the country,” he said, adding: “There’s no threat to the protection of these rights in Maryland, where it’s already a law. Voters have already weighed in on it. It’s settled law.”Hogan’s successor as governor, the Democrat Wes Moore, hit back, telling the Baltimore Banner: “Anyone who thinks that there is no threat to women’s reproductive rights and abortion access is delusional.” More
House speaker Mike Johnson has reportedly declared “no need for public alarm” regarding House intelligence committee chair Mike Turner’s national security warning. “Steady hands are at the wheel, we’re working on it, there’s no need for alarm,” Johnson told media on Wednesday afternoon.His comments come after Turner issued a statement that Congress had been made aware of a “serious national security threat” and called on Joe Biden to “declassify all information” related to it.During a press briefing, the national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, said he planned to meet with members of the House intelligence committee on Thursday.“We scheduled a briefing for the for House members of the Gang of Eight tomorrow,” said Sullivan. “I am a bit surprised that Congressman Turner came out publicly today in advance of a meeting on the books for me to go sit with him alongside our intelligence and defense professionals tomorrow.”Turner’s concerns are reportedly related to Russian military capabilities.Thanks for following along today, live blog readers. As we close up for the day, here’s a quick summary of today’s developments in U.S. politics – including the fallout from Alejandro Mayorkas’ impeachment and cryptic warnings about a looming national security threat:
Democrats reacted to the Tuesday vote to impeach Department of Homeland Security secretary Alejandro Mayorkas – the first time in nearly 150 years that a Cabinet secretary has been impeached. “History will not look kindly on House Republicans for their blatant act of unconstitutional partisanship,” said Joe Biden, of the impeachment.
The impeachment effort will almost certainly die in the senate, which would require a supermajority vote to impeach following a trial that begins in two weeks. Democratic senate majority leader Chuck Schumer has called the impeachment a “sham.”
House intelligence committee chair Mike Turner warned in a cryptic statement of a national security threat, calling on Biden to “declassify all information related to this threat”. During a press briefing, the national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, declined to directly address the nature of the alleged threat and said he had “scheduled a briefing for House members of the Gang of Eight” on Thursday.
The Washington Post reported that the security threat had been identified using surveillance permitted under section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (Fisa), a controversial provision that allows the government to surveil non-citizens abroad – but has also led to the surveillance of Americans’ phone calls, texts and emails. House Republicans are pushing to enact a version of Fisa that does not include a warrant requirement for the FBI – a reform critics of the legislation have long advocated.
A Republican activist charged for his involvement in the fake elector scheme in Michigan testified today that he didn’t knowingly try to unlawfully subvert the results of the 2020 election. He was charged with creating a false public record.
Democratic House minority leader Hakeem Jeffries said in a statement on the topic of the alleged national security threat that the “most urgent national security threat facing the American people right now is the possibility that Congress abandons Ukraine and allows Vladimir Putin’s Russia to win”.The Guardian’s Dan Sabbagh reports on Nato’s secretary general responding to Donald Trump’s disparaging comments about Nato countries: Jens Stoltenberg, Nato’s secretary general, has accused Donald Trump of undermining the basis of the transatlantic alliance as he announced that 18 Nato members were expected to beat the target of spending more than 2% of GDP on defence.It was the second rebuke by the Nato chief to the Republican frontrunner in less than a week, reinforced by a declaration that Germany was among the countries planning to spend over the threshold for the first time in a generation.“We should not undermine the credibility of Nato’s deterrence,” Stoltenberg said on Wednesday as he responded to comments made by Trump at a campaign rally at the weekend. “Deterrence is in the mind of our adversaries,” he added.On Saturday, Trump caused outrage in Europe when he said he would “not protect” any Nato member that had failed to meet the 2% target – and added that he would even encourage Russia to continue attacking them.A day later, Stoltenberg said Trump’s rhetoric “puts American and European soldiers at increased risk”, while on Wednesday, before a meeting of defence ministers, the normally diplomatic secretary general returned to the theme, arguing: “We should leave no room for miscalculation or misunderstanding in Moscow.”The Washington Post reports that the alleged security threat that House intelligence committee chairman Mike Turner warned about in a cryptic statement today was likely identified using surveillance permitted under section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (Fisa), a controversial provision that allows the government to spy on non-citizens living abroad – and has also led to the surveillance of Americans’ phone calls, texts and emails.House Republicans are pushing for a new version of the bill that does not include a warrant requirement for the FBI – a key reform critics of the legislation have pushed for.House speaker Mike Johnson has said there is “no need for public alarm” regarding the unconfirmed national security threat.In a statement, the chair of the Senate select committee on intelligence, Mark Warner, and the vice-chair of the committee, Marco Rubio, said the committee “has the intelligence” that House intelligence committee chair Mike Turner referred to in a Wednesday statement warning of a national security threat.According to the statement, the committee “has been rigorously tracking this issue from the start”. The statement warned against “potentially disclosing sources and methods that may be key to preserving a range of options for US action”.CNN has reported the alleged threat is related to Russian military capabilities.Nikki Haley blasted Donald Trump for his comments on her husband, who is currently deployed overseas. The Guardian’s Martin Pengelly puts Haley’s remarks in context:Donald Trump is “unhinged” and “diminished”, said Nikki Haley, the former president’s last rival for the Republican presidential nomination, on Wednesday.“To mock my husband, Michael and I can handle that,” the former South Carolina governor and UN ambassador told NBC News’s Today, referring to comments by Trump about Michael Haley, a national guard officer deployed in Djibouti.“But you mock one member of the military, you mock all members of the military … Before, when he did it, it was during the 2016 election, and everybody thought, ‘Oh, did he have a slip? What did that mean?’ The problem now is he is not the same person he was in 2016. He is unhinged. He is more diminished than he was.”In the 2016 campaign, Trump mocked John McCain, an Arizona senator and former nominee for president who was a prisoner of war in Vietnam. Having avoided the draft for that war, Trump was expected to pay a heavy political price but did not, going on to attract controversy in office for allegedly deriding those who serve.House speaker Mike Johnson has reportedly declared “no need for public alarm” regarding House intelligence committee chair Mike Turner’s national security warning. “Steady hands are at the wheel, we’re working on it, there’s no need for alarm,” Johnson told media on Wednesday afternoon.His comments come after Turner issued a statement that Congress had been made aware of a “serious national security threat” and called on Joe Biden to “declassify all information” related to it.During a press briefing, the national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, said he planned to meet with members of the House intelligence committee on Thursday.“We scheduled a briefing for the for House members of the Gang of Eight tomorrow,” said Sullivan. “I am a bit surprised that Congressman Turner came out publicly today in advance of a meeting on the books for me to go sit with him alongside our intelligence and defense professionals tomorrow.”Turner’s concerns are reportedly related to Russian military capabilities.A Michigan Republican accused of participating in a fake elector plot after the 2020 presidential election testified on Wednesday that he did not know how the electoral process worked and never intended to make a false public record, the Associated Press reports.“We were told this was an appropriate process,” James Renner, 77, said during a preliminary hearing for a half-dozen other electors who face forgery and other charges.People who falsely posed as electors in a six-state scheme to overturn the 2020 presidential election have been criminally charged in Georgia and Nevada. In Wisconsin, false electors agreed to a settlement in a civil case in December.“You have a majority of Americans who believe that we need to protect our democracy,” said White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre in response to a question about recent polling showing about 18% of Americans believe in the conspiracy theory that Taylor Swift is part of a plot by Democrats to deliver the 2024 presidential election to Joe Biden. That poll also found people who believe the Taylor Swift theory are also more likely to doubt the validity of the 2020 presidential election.The United States expects Israel to meet its commitment to allow a shipment of flour to be moved into Gaza, White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters on Wednesday, Reuters reports.Sullivan was responding to a question about an Axios report on Tuesday that said the Israeli government was blocking a US-funded flour shipment to Gaza.Jake Sullivan has finished taking questions from the media and has left the west wing now. White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre will now take the briefing onto more domestic matters in US political news.Meanwhile, Axios wrote:
Israeli ultranationalist Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich is blocking a U.S.-funded flour shipment to Gaza because its recipient is the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), two Israeli and U.S. officials told Axios.
U.S. officials said this is a violation of a commitment Benjamin Netanyahu personally made to President Biden several weeks ago and another reason the U.S. leader is frustrated with the Israeli prime minister.
CNN reports the national security threat that Congressman Mike Turner called on Joe Biden to declassify is related to a “highly concerning and destabilizing” Russian military capability.During a press briefing, the national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, declined to comment on the specifics of the threat.“We scheduled a briefing for the for House members of the Gang of Eight tomorrow,” said Sullivan. “I am a bit surprised that Congressman Turner came out publicly today in advance of a meeting on the books for me to go sit with him alongside our intelligence and defense professionals tomorrow.”National security adviser Jake Sullivan was asked at the White House press briefing about efforts to secure a “temporary pause” in the Israel-Hamas war in Gaza, and how that might work.There are international talks under way in Egypt about a ceasefire in Gaza and a deal with Hamas to return hostages it took during its attack on southern Israel on 7 October 2023, which provoked a crushing Israeli military response in Gaza. Our colleague Bethan McKernan reports that mediators are struggling to make progress in the face of a threatened Israeli offensive on Rafah, the Palestinian territory’s last place of relative safety.Sullivan described that a plan could “start with the temporary pause … The idea is that we have multiple phases as part of the hostage deal and we move from phase 1 to the next and we can extend the pause [in fighting] as more hostages come out.”He added: “What we would like to see is that Hamas is ultimately defeated, that peace and security come to Gaza, and then we work towards a longer term, two-state solution, with Gaza’s security guaranteed.”Our colleague Léonie Chao-Fong wrote this explainer piece over the weekend about the latest US push for a solution in the Middle East that would result in Israel and Palestine coexisting in peace. You can read it here.In a statement, Republican congressman Mike Turner, who chairs the House intelligence committee, warned that Congress had been alerted to a “serious national security threat” and called on Biden to “declassify all information related to this threat”. During a press briefing, the national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, declined to directly address the nature of the alleged threat and said that he had plans to meet with congressional intelligence lawmakers tomorrow. More
In 1876, the last US cabinet official to be impeached, William Belknap, resigned before the House could vote on the matter. Ulysses S Grant’s secretary of war was tried in the Senate anyway, on charges of corruption, but escaped conviction.Nearly 150 years later, in the House on Tuesday and at the second time of asking, Republicans corralled just enough votes to ensure Joe Biden’s secretary of homeland security, Alejandro Mayorkas, suffered Belknap’s fate. But Mayorkas has not resigned – and nor is he likely to be convicted and removed.Democrats control the Senate, which means Mayorkas is all but certain to be acquitted at any trial, regardless of reported doubts among Republican senators about their party’s case.After the 214-213 vote to impeach, Chuck Schumer, the Democratic Senate majority leader, set out what will happen next. House managers will present the articles of impeachment after Monday’s President’s Day holiday. Senators will be sworn in as jurors. And Patty Murray of Washington state, the Democratic Senate president pro tempore, will preside thereafter.Schumer also issued a stinging statement.“This sham impeachment effort is another embarrassment for House Republicans,” the New Yorker said. “The one and only reason for this impeachment is for Speaker [Mike] Johnson to further appease Donald Trump.”The Mayorkas impeachment is of a kind with Senate Republicans’ decision last week to detonate their own hard-won border and immigration bill because Trump, their likely nominee for president, wants to campaign on the issue.Schumer continued: “House Republicans failed to produce any evidence that Secretary Mayorkas has committed any crime. House Republicans failed to show he has violated the constitution. House Republicans failed to present any evidence of anything resembling an impeachable offense. This is a new low for House Republicans.”Most observers agree that the charges against Mayorkas – basically, that he performed incompetently and violated immigration law regarding the southern border – do not remotely rise to the level of “high crimes and misdemeanours”, as constitutionally required for impeachment and removal.Perhaps with a nod to the unfortunate Belknap, the Biden White House weighed in, saying: “History will not look kindly on House Republicans for their blatant act of unconstitutional partisanship that has targeted an honorable public servant in order to play petty political games.”But history also records that all impeachments (and impeachment efforts, such as that mounted by Republicans against Biden himself) are inherently political, so this one could prove as politically potent as did those of Trump. Both Trump impeachments concerned behaviour – blackmailing Ukraine for political dirt and inciting the January 6 attack on Congress – much closer by any standard to the status of high crimes and misdemeanours. Regardless, Republicans ensured Trump was acquitted in both and have since fed Trump’s fierce desire for revenge.The Mayorkas impeachment was driven by Trump-aligned extremists prominently including Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia.Speaking to reporters on the Capitol steps on Tuesday, the same day the Senate passed a $95bn national security package including funding for Ukraine in its war with Russia, Greene said she was “very thankful to our Republican Congress. We’re finally working together with the American people to send a message to the Biden administration that it’s our border that matters, not other countries’ borders. Our border matters.”Claiming Mayorkas was guilty of “willful betrayal of the American people and breaking federal immigration laws”, Greene also said the impeachment “sends a message to America that Republicans can get our job done when we work together and do what’s important and what the American people want us to do.”skip past newsletter promotionafter newsletter promotionIf there were any remaining doubt that Mayorkas was impeached in service of pure politics, Greene said senators set to sit as jurors should “look at the polling. They know that our border security is the No 1 issue in every single campaign in every single state, every single city, in every single community … They better pay attention to the American people.”It is not certain, however, that a trial will happen.Joshua Matz, a lawyer who has written extensively on impeachment and worked on both impeachments of Trump, recently told Politico: “Impeachment trials are meant to be deadly serious business for matters of state – not free publicity for the House majority to air policy attacks on the current administration.”The Mayorkas impeachment articles, Matz said, are “so manifestly about policy disagreement rather than anything that could arguably qualify as high crimes and misdemeanours, that it would be unwarranted to waste the Senate’s time with the trial on the matter.“The articles are formally deficient in so many ways that any trial would be flagrantly unfair and create such grave due process issues that it would be outrageous to even proceed.”Senate Democrats could bring up a simple motion to dismiss the Mayorkas charges, a gambit which would be likely to succeed, given indicated support from the West Virginia centrist Joe Manchin, a key swing vote in the narrowly divided chamber. Less starkly, Democrats could seek to tie proceedings up in procedure, options including sending the charges to a committee, there to sit in limbo throughout an election year.All choices carry political peril, however. On Wednesday, the news site Semafor quoted an unnamed Republican aide as saying: “If Democrats give Republicans the opportunity to say that they are sweeping this under the rug, we will gladly take it.“If this is the sham Democrats claim it is, why would they be afraid of holding a trial?” More
Nearly a decade ago, as Russian troops entered the Crimean peninsula, congressional Republicans were in uproar, blaming Moscow’s land grab on what they claimed was a retreat from American leadership by then president Barack Obama. Loudest among the Republican critics was the South Carolina senator Lindsey Graham, who assailed Obama as a “weak, indecisive leader”.In a pre-dawn vote on Tuesday, Graham joined the majority of Senate Republicans in opposing a foreign aid package that would rush wartime assistance to Ukraine as it approaches the second anniversary of Russia’s full invasion.It was a shocking – if not entirely surprising – turn for one of the chamber’s leading defense hawks and a steadfast Russia critic. But these days Graham has another distinction: he is one of Donald Trump’s most loyal allies on Capitol Hill, where the former president – and likely Republican nominee – has been whipping up opposition to Ukraine’s war effort.Just 22 Republican senators broke with Trump to approve the aid package for Ukraine, Israel and other US allies – yet another sign of how thoroughly the former president’s America First vision has supplanted the party’s consensus toward internationalism and interventionism.There has long been an isolationist strain among hardline Republicans who contend that investment in foreign entanglements risks bringing the US closer to war and diverts money away from domestic challenges. But then Trump came to power and sidelined the defense hawks, ushering in a dramatic shift in Republican sentiment toward America’s allies and adversaries.Nearly half of Republicans and right-leaning independents said the US was providing too much aid to Ukraine, according to a survey by the Pew Research Center conducted late last year. This share rose sharply from the early stages of the war following Russia’s invasion in February 2022.In his statement on Monday night, Graham insisted that he still supported Ukraine but said unless and until lawmakers turn the $95bn military assistance package into a “loan instead of a grant”, he would oppose it.It echoed comments Trump made over the weekend, in an all-caps social media post addressed to the US Senate, in which he said foreign aid should be structured as a loan, not a “giveaway”. Later in a campaign speech, Trump rattled American allies in Europe when he claimed that he would encourage Russia to attack Nato allies who did not pay enough to maintain the security alliance.But in Washington, most Republicans dismissed or downplayed the remark.“I was here when he was president. He didn’t undermine or destroy Nato,” senator Marco Rubio, a Florida Republican who sponsored legislation to block a US president from unilaterally withdrawing from Nato, told reporters. The senator, who built a reputation as a defense hawk, voted against the military assistance measure on Tuesday.The bill, which includes $60bn for Ukraine, divided the Senate Republican leadership. From the Senate floor, Senator Mitch McConnell, the top Republican, delivered increasingly urgent pleas for his conference to rise to the occasion and support America’s allies, even after his plan to tie border security to foreign aid collapsed, torpedoed by Trump’s opposition.“This is about rebuilding the arsenal of democracy and demonstrating to our allies and adversaries alike that we’re serious about exercising American strength,” McConnell said. “American assistance with these efforts is not charity. It’s an investment in cold, hard US interests.”McConnell’s deputy, John Thune of South Dakota, voted for the measure, while John Barrasso of Wyoming, the No 3 Senate Republican, opposed it. Barrasso has endorsed Trump for president.skip past newsletter promotionafter newsletter promotionIn a floor speech, Senator Rand Paul, who led the effort to delay the measure, accused McConnell, a fellow Republican from Kentucky, of collaborating with Democrats to “loot the Treasury”. He panned McConnell’s argument that bolstering Ukraine’s defense was critical to American national security as “ludicrous”.The Ohio senator JD Vance, another Trump loyalist, claimed the effort to replenish Ukraine’s war chest was a “plot” by the Republican establishment to “stop the election of Donald Trump”. Meanwhile, some arch-conservatives suggested it was time for McConnell to step down.Now the bill goes to the House, where the speaker, Mike Johnson, must tread carefully not to meet the same fate as his prematurely deposed predecessor. Johnson indicated that he was unlikely to bring the measure to the floor for a vote because it lacks border enforcement measures. But just last week he announced that he would refuse to bring a version of the bill that included a border security deal because the Trump-allied hardliners who hold outsized power over his thin majority were wary of handing Joe Biden anything that resembled a political victory.House Democrats and the remaining pro-Ukraine House Republicans are casting about behind the scenes for a solution. But there are many political and logistical hurdles to overcome before a majority bloc not accustomed to working together in the tribal House comes together to circumvent Johnson – and by extension Trump.“If it were to get to the floor, it would pass,” congressman Andy Biggs, a member of the hardline House Freedom caucus and a staunch opponent of the aid package, told a conservative radio host on Tuesday morning. “Let’s just be frank about that.”But until the bill reaches Biden’s desk, Biggs’s admission is cold comfort to American allies waiting for Congress to act. More
After many setbacks and much suspense, the Senate appeared on track this week to approve a long-awaited package of wartime funding for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan, as Republican opponents staged a filibuster to register their disapproval over a measure they could not block.The Senate voted 66-33, exceeding a 60-vote margin, to sweep aside the last procedural hurdle and limit debate on the measure to a final 30 hours before a vote on passage that could come on Wednesday.Senators had worked through the weekend on the roughly $95bn emergency spending package, which cleared a series of procedural hurdles as it moved toward final passage. The chamber voted on the legislation on Monday night following hours of debate and a talking filibuster led by Republican senator Rand Paul and joined by a coterie of Donald Trump’s allies in the chamber.On Monday, Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat, said the weekend votes demonstrated “beyond doubt that there’s strong support” for advancing the foreign aid package.Schumer said: “These are the enormously high stakes of the supplemental package: our security, our values, our democracy. It is a down payment for the survival of western democracy and the survival of American values.”He continued: “The entire world is going to remember what the Senate does in the next few days. Nothing – nothing – would make Putin happier right now than to see Congress waver in its support for Ukraine; nothing would help him more on the battlefield.”If the bill passes the Senate as expected, the bill would next go to the Republican-led House, where next steps are uncertain. Though a bipartisan majority still supports sending assistance to Ukraine, there is a growing contingent of Republican skeptics who echo Trump’s disdain for the US-backed war effort.“House Republicans were crystal clear from the very beginning of discussions that any so-called national security supplemental legislation must recognize that national security begins at our own border,” read a statement from House speaker Mike Johnson.The Republican speaker said the package lacked border security provisions, calling it “silent on the most pressing issue facing our country”. It was the latest – and potentially most consequential – sign of opposition to the Ukraine aid from conservatives who have for months demanded that border security policy be included in the package, only to last week reject a bipartisan proposal intended to curb the number of illegal crossings at the US-Mexico border.“Now, in the absence of having received any single border policy change from the Senate, the House will have to continue to work its own will on these important matters,” Johnson said. “America deserves better than the Senate’s status quo.”The measure includes $60bn in funding for Ukraine, where soldiers are running out of ammunition as the country seeks to repel Russian troops nearly two years after the invasion. Much of that money would go toward supporting Ukraine’s military operations and to replenishing the US supply of weapons and equipment that have been sent to the frontlines. Another $14bn would go to support Israel and US military operations in the region. More than $8bn would go to support US partners in the Indo-Pacific region, including Taiwan, as part of its effort to deter aggression by China.It also allots nearly $10bn for humanitarian efforts in Ukraine, Israel and Gaza, where nearly a quarter of residents are starving and large swaths of the territory have been ravaged.skip past newsletter promotionafter newsletter promotionNot included in the package is a bipartisan border clampdown demanded by Republicans in exchange for their support for the foreign aid package. But after months of fraught negotiations, Republicans abandoned the deal following Trump’s vocal opposition to the border-security measure.Though its Republican defenders argued that it was the most conservative immigration reform proposal put forward in decades, Trump loyalists on Capitol Hill deemed it inadequate amid record levels of migration at the US southern border. Others were more explicit, warning that bipartisan action to address the situation could help Joe Biden’s electoral prospects in the November elections.Border security is top of mind for many Americans, the overwhelming majority of whom disapprove of the president’s handling of the issue.After the Senate failed to advance the border security measure, Schumer stripped it out and moved ahead with a narrowly-tailored foreign aid package. In floor speeches on Monday, several Republican senators lamented the absence of border enforcement policies, though all had voted to reject the bipartisan immigration deal last week.“Open the champagne, pop the cork! The Senate Democrat leader and the Republican leader are on their way to Kyiv,” Paul said, launching the filibuster. He continued: “They’re taking your money to Kyiv. They didn’t have much time – really no time and no money – to do anything about our border.” More
Larry Hogan, the former Republican governor of Maryland who on Friday announced a surprise US Senate run, told an interviewer last year he did not “have a burning desire to be a senator”, would find sitting in the Senate “really frustrating”, thought being a senator was “not where my skill set lies”, and said that though he could win a seat, “the problem was I would win and I would have to go be a senator”.Hogan made the stark remarks, which may now come to haunt him, in an interview last May with Johanna Maska, host of the Press Advance podcast and a former White House aide to Barack Obama.Hogan left office in Maryland in January 2023 after two terms as governor. A popular moderate Republican in a deeply Democratic state, he was long linked to a presidential bid with No Labels, a centrist group considering a challenge to Joe Biden and Donald Trump, the likely GOP nominee.On Friday, however, Politico first reported that Hogan was jumping into the race to succeed Ben Cardin, a long-serving, retiring Democrat, in the US Senate.Releasing a video announcement, Hogan said: “I am running for the United States senate – not to serve one party – but to stand up to both parties, fight for Maryland, and fix our nation’s broken politics. It’s what I did as Maryland’s governor, and it’s exactly how I’ll serve Maryland in the Senate. Let’s get back to work.”He may have work to do to explain his comments to Maska.Asked about previous comments in which he said he wouldn’t run for the Senate, and if he could change his mind, Hogan said: “You know, I’ve said over and over again that number one, I just didn’t have a burning desire to be a senator.“You know, I love being governor. I’ve been running businesses my whole life. I’m more of an executive. I got to make decisions every day that [affected] people’s lives and you have a lot of ability to make a difference.“The Senate, not to say it’s not an important job, but you’re one of 100 and you’re, you know, arguing all day and making speeches in committees but very little ever seems to get done. And so I think just on a personal human level, I think it’d be really frustrating to be sitting in the Senate, I’m not sure it would motivate me, it’s not where my skill set lies, I don’t think.”Hogan’s decision to run for Senate came the same week Republicans in the chamber tanked their own border and immigration reform bill at the command of Trump.Hogan is a rare Republican critic of the former president. In his interview with Maska, he referred to widely reported attempts by the Senate GOP to recruit him as a prized moderate in a party which has seen a succession of extremists defeated in key states.“I get why they’re coming after me,” Hogan said. “We haven’t elected a Republican senator [in Maryland] since 1986 [when Charles Mathias retired] and in the last seat that opened up, two years ago [the Democrat] Chris Van Hollen, a Washington Post poll said I would have beaten him by 12 points.“You know … I left [the governor’s mansion] with the highest approval rating of any politician in state history and so I probably could win the seat. But … the problem was I would win and I would have to go be a senator.”The former governor did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The Maryland Republican party said it could not speak for Hogan. More