(Headline USA) As House Republicans launch a formal impeachment investigation into whether President Joe Biden abused his office while vice president to accept bribes from foreign entities through his son Hunter and other family members, the man rumored to be blackmailing him for billions of dollars with the threat of firsthand information about a quid-pro-quo scandal may be an unwelcome presence at the White House.
Nonetheless, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is likely to walk away with exactly what he wants and then some.
Zelenskyy is expected to return to the White House and on Capitol Hill next week as he visits the U.S. during the United Nations General Assembly.
An administration official, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss the sensitive visit, said Zelenskyy will meet with Biden at the White House next Thursday. The trip to the Capitol was confirmed by two congressional aides granted anonymity to discuss the plans.
Zelenskyy’s trip comes as Congress—which is facing a potential shutdown in a brewing budget battle—debates Biden’s request to provide as much as $24 billion in military and humanitarian aid for Ukraine as it fights the Russian invasion.
Already the U.S. is estimated to have delivered more than 88 billion in funding to Ukraine in 2023 alone.
A List of American Taxpayer Funds sent to Ukraine since the start of the Russian-Ukrainian Conflict:
2/20/2023 $500 Million
2/23/2023 $10 Billion
2/24/2023 $2 Billion
3/3/2023 $400 Million
3/20/2023 $350 Million
4/04/2023 $2.6 Billion
4/19/2023 $325 Million
— Joey Mannarino (@JoeyMannarinoUS) September 7, 2023
The State Department has acknowledged there is no way of tracking the money, while the Pentagon has made several accounting errors by overvaluing its equipment that allowed it to circumvent the congressional appropriations process.
Both the White House and Congressional Democrats have actively resisted efforts to put in place a watchdog to track or audit the funds.
Unlike previous appropriations, the blank check Zelenskyy has been granted in the past from a bipartisan Congress may not be as easy to procure with public sentiment shifting amid a stalemate and further questions arising about the Biden administration’s true motives for backing the war in Ukraine.
The dual wedge issues of impeachment and a government shutdown only add fuel to the fire in what proved to be a contentious debate regardless.
Congress is increasingly divided over providing additional funding for Ukraine as the war is well into its second year. Biden has sought a package of $13.1 billion in additional military aid for Ukraine and $8.5 billion for humanitarian support. It also includes $2.3 billion for financing and to catalyze donors through the World Bank.
Congress is working to pass its annual appropriations bills before a Sept. 30 deadline to keep the U.S. government running.
The Ukrainian president made a wartime visit to Washington in December 2022 and delivered an impassioned address to a joint meeting of Congress. At the time it was his first known trip outside his country since Russia invaded in February of that year.
In his speech to cheering lawmakers, Zelenskyy thanked Americans for helping to fund the war effort and said that the money is “not charity,” but an “investment” in global security and democracy.
Since then, however, he has threatened to suspend his own country’s elections until the war ends and only if he continues to receive adequate levels of sustained funding from the U.S. and other nations, which goes not only toward military use but also government pensions and salaries.
Details of Zelenskyy’s visit next week were not yet being made public. It was first reported by Punchbowl News.
The White House National Security Council declined to comment on Zelenskyy’s plans, including whether he would meet with Biden at the White House.
Meanwhile, the Treasury and State departments announced they were imposing new sanctions on more than 150 individuals and entities connected with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said the U.S. was “continuing our relentless work to target Russia’s military supply chains and deprive [Russian President Vladimir] Putin of the equipment, technology, and services he needs to wage his barbaric war on Ukraine.”
Adapted from reporting by the Associated Press