Following the historic vote that led to Kevin McCarthy‘s removal as House speaker, former White House press secretary Jen Psaki wrote in a column on Saturday that Republicans are helping fulfill Russian President Vladimir Putin‘s “dreams.”
The House of Representatives, which has a Republican majority, voted 216-210 to oust McCarthy, a California Republican, as its speaker on Tuesday, marking a historic first as the conflict between the Republican Party’s establishment and its hard right continue. In an MSNBC column published on Saturday, Psaki writes how the removal of McCarthy and the subsequent conflict within the GOP is the kind of chaos and instigating Putin has been aiming for since 2016.
“His [Putin’s] entire goal in 2016 was to throw the United States and its institutions into chaos. Well, the MAGA wing of the House is now doing just that — and the Russian president hasn’t had to lift a finger. With no speaker, and no consensus choice from the caucus in advance of leadership elections next week, a chaotic, divisive power vacuum has developed. This is exactly the kind of feckless governing Putin dreams about instigating,” the former Biden White House press secretary wrote.
This comes after Putin’s tumultuous history with former President Donald Trump as Reuters reported in 2017 that a Russian government think tank controlled by the Russian leader developed a plan to swing the 2016 presidential election in favor to Trump. Meanwhile in 2019, a report from former FBI director Robert Mueller found no evidence that the Trump campaign criminally worked with Russia to help interfere in the election.
Psaki, who is also host of Inside with Jen Psaki on MSNBC, states the disarray and the continuous conflicts among Republicans in the House, along with those who oppose aid for Ukraine, could impact the Eastern European country’s war effort against Russia, which invaded in February 2022.
In her column, Psaki also cites the current opposition towards Ukrainian aid coupled with a previous opposition from some Republicans when the House passed a bill in 2022 directing the Biden administration to collect evidence of Russian war crimes, reflects Putin’s goal to instigate chaos within U.S. institutions.
“Ukraine needs additional funding to ensure it can adequately defend itself on the front lines, but the chances of securing that vital funding appear to be dwindling. So yes, Putin is thrilled with the party that Trump has created. They are doing his work for him,” Psaki wrote.
Over the course of the Russia-Ukraine war, the U.S. has provided nearly $77 billion in aid, roughly $46 billion of which has specifically been military aid, according to the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR).
Last month, McCarthy denied Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky an opportunity to speak to Congress to try to shore up more aid, with McCarthy saying that Congress just simply “didn’t have time.” However, in a closed-door meeting, the then-House speaker told the Ukrainian president that he supports Kyiv, The Hill reported.
Leading the effort to remove McCarthy was Representative Matt Gaetz, a Florida Republican, who filed a “motion to vacate” after the then-House speaker supported a bipartisan deal to avert a government shutdown in late September.
Gaetz has been an outspoken critic of McCarthy and is vehemently opposed to the U.S. providing more aid to Ukraine.
“So for all the crocodile tears about what may happen later this week about a motion to vacate, working with the Democrats is a yellow brick road that has been paved by Speaker McCarthy—whether it was the debt limit deal, the [continuing resolution] or now the secret deal on Ukraine,” Gaetz told reporters on the steps of the Capitol on Monday.
Newsweek has reached out to Gaetz and the White House for comment.
Thus far, two House Republicans have announced they are seeking to be McCarthy’s replacement, with the ex-speaker himself saying he won’t run again for the job. The declared candidates are Representative Jim Jordan, who chairs the House Judiciary Committee, and House Majority Leader Steve Scalise.
Scalise has routinely voted in support of American aid for Ukraine, while Jordan has voted against nearly all bills offering assistance to the war-torn country, though he did back an early 2022 proposal to send some equipment to Kyiv as part of a lend-lease deal.
Republican House members will meet to discuss who should replace McCarthy on Wednesday.