With the House of Representatives expected to draw up articles of impeachment against Donald Trump in the next few weeks, the process would then likely move to the Senate, which holds a trial to decide whether or not to convict Trump and remove him from office.
But on Sunday, a former Democratic National Committee official raised questions about the impartiality of at least eight Republicans who may be called to cast votes on Trump’s impeachment and potential removal.
Taking to his Twitter account, former DNC National Field Director Adam Parkhomenko said that it appears to be an “inevitability” that the Republican-controlled Senate will allow Trump to “walk.” But the 2018 visit to Russia by eight Republicans — seven senators and one House rep — needs to be discussed in the context of the impeachment vote, he added.
“Can we please also talk about the U.S. senators who spent the Fourth of July in Moscow and now spout Kremlin talking points?” Parkhomenko wrote.
The eight Republicans traveled to Moscow on a trip timed to coincide with July 4, Independence Day in the United States. There, the Republicans reportedly held a series of closed-door meetings with Russian officials and lawmakers.
“The meetings of American guests in both chambers of the Russian parliament were surrounded by a veil of secrecy,” a Moscow newspaper reported at the time.
One of those Republicans, John Kennedy of Louisiana, now publicly backs the claim that Ukraine, not Russia, interfered in the 2016 Presidential election — to help Democrat Hillary Clinton, rather than Trump. In an interview on Sunday, Kennedy claimed, without citing evidence, that former Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko “actively worked” for Clinton, according to an Axios account.
Another Senator who was part of the delegation to Moscow last year, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, reportedly held meetings with Russian officials in a “secret room” during the July 4 visit.
Johnson has since claimed that he “absolutely” does not trust the American CIA and FBI, whose investigations have concluded that Russia interfered in the 2016 election to promote a Trump victory.
In addition to Kennedy and Johnson, the Republican delegation to Moscow included Richard Shelby of Alabama, Steve Daines of Montana, John Hoeven of North Dakota, Jerry Moran of Kansas, John Thune of South Dakota, and House member Kay Granger of Texas, according to a Washington Post report.
Though Kennedy later claimed that the Republicans used the closed-door meetings to confront Russian officials about the 2016 election interference operation, and warn the Russians against repeating the election attack in 2020, Russian officials appeared to contradict the Republican senator.
Russian lawmaker Vyacheslav Nikonov called the meeting with the GOP senators “one of the easiest ones in my life,” as quoted by The Washington Post.