SPOKANE — After visiting Ukraine in 2015 and becoming sympathetic to that country’s fight against Russia, U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers joined a small group of members of Congress known as the Ukraine Caucus.
She remains a strong congressional supporter of that country on the cusp of Europe and Russia. But while she disagrees with the Trump administration’s decision earlier this year to delay military aid to Ukraine, she doesn’t yet see anything that would be impeachable.
In a recent interview after returning to Spokane for the Thanksgiving holiday, McMorris Rodgers called that suspension “unfortunate” but defended Trump’s actions overall as an improvement for relations between the two countries.
“It’s important to remember that the aid did get released,” she said. “It’s important to remember that the Trump administration has done more than the Obama administration. … In the previous administration, I believe we should have been doing more to aid Ukraine.”
When she visited in 2015, Russia had annexed Crimea and the two countries were battling for control of parts of eastern Ukraine. Russian President Vladimir Putin had shut off natural gas and oil to Ukraine in the winter and members of the bipartisan congressional delegation decided to push for American energy imports.
She joined the Ukraine Caucus, a bipartisan group of about three dozen House members that first formed in 1997 to push for better relations with that country. Two other Washington representatives, Democrats Suzan DelBene and Adam Smith, are members, as is House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Before the whistleblower complaint surfaced in September, McMorris Rodgers said she wasn’t aware that military aid to Ukraine approved by Congress had been suspended for nearly two months earlier this year at the orders of the White House.
McMorris Rodgers, who has been a critic of Putin and Russian propaganda efforts, said she’s not aware of any evidence of Ukrainian interference in U.S. elections in 2016.
She voted against the resolution to hold the impeachment inquiry, and hasn’t changed her mind after a week of public testimony.
“I have yet to see an impeachable offense,” she said. “I continue to have concerns that the Republicans have not been allowed to bring forth witnesses. I have concerns that we do not have any firsthand witnesses willing to come forward.”