I watched the recent news clip of U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik defending President Donald Trump’s withholding of aid to Ukraine based on his concerns about government corruption. She opined “the president has the right to withhold aid if he believes it will be used corruptly and not for its intended purpose.”
Our congresswoman added that government corruption has been a longstanding problem in Ukraine: “just go back and read the testimony given by State Department staff during the impeachment hearings. It was prudent of the president to withhold this aid since a new president was recently elected who ran on an anti-corruption platform. Let’s give the new Ukrainian president time to form his government, for parliamentary elections and then see if the aid should be released.”
My questions to Rep. Stefanik are:
1. If government corruption in Ukraine has been rampant, why did you vote to release this aid in February 2019? The State Department had reported that progress was being made and recommended we give them the aid. Were you misled by the State Department?
2. March, April, May and June came and went, yet there were no communications to your constituents in NY-21 that corruption in Ukraine was still problematic and that we should rethink the aid vote. The Ukrainian presidential elections were held in two rounds in late March and mid-April 2019. Why did you not voice holding back this aid then rather than in December 2019? Maybe the reason for your silence on the subject was you assumed the aid had been sent as you and Congress authorized back in February.
3. Now it is July, and America is now aware that President Trump has blocked the aid due to corruption concerns. Was there an increase in corrupt activities by the Ukrainian government between February and July? If there was, could you please share examples of this that support the president’s decision?
I am asking the Watertown Daily Times’ assistance in getting answers to these questions. Rep. Stefanik had described herself as a straight shooter who values transparency in dealing with her constituents, and I appreciate that. I believe there are others residing in NY-21 who would welcome her answers to these questions.
I hope the Times can get answers to these important questions. Please help the voters of NY-21 make an informed decision in November.