Host S.E. Cupp began the discussion by asking Kinzinger, a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, whether he has concerns about Trump “trying to persuade” world leaders to meddle in American elections.
“There’s always a concern,” the congressman responded, noting, however, that impeachment will not change much in that regard, but that there are still legitimate concerns.
“I don’t think it’s going to like go off the rails all of a sudden now because he’s impeached and he doesn’t care, but I do think there has been some huge challenges on foreign policy,” he said of the president.
Cupp then shifted the discussion to new reports which allege Russian President Vladimir Putin convinced Trump that it was Ukraine — not Russia — that meddled in the 2016 presidential election.
According to reports, after meeting privately in July 2017 with Putin at the G20 summit, Trump started insisting that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 election in order to help the Democratic Party win. Breaking with American intelligence agencies, Trump reportedly told his advisers that he believes Putin.
According to one former White House official, Trump repeatedly insisted that Russia “didn’t do anything,” and that Ukraine meddled in order to help then-Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.
Putin’s claims about Ukrainian election interference, those close to Trump anonymously told the press, led to his alleged pressuring of the Ukrainian government to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and other prominent Democratic politicians.
“Isn’t Trump’s indifference to Russian meddling a problem that even impeachment won’t solve?” Cupp asked.
“I think it’s a huge problem,” Kinzinger responded, adding that “faith in democracy is undermined” when voters think outside forces are influencing American elections.
“I’ve never understood,” the lawmaker added, “the hesitancy to call out Russia and to fight Russia for what they’re doing, because it has very real consequences.”
Trump’s contacts with the Ukrainian government are at the core of House Democrats’ accusations. According to Democrats, Trump froze — threatening to permanently cut — military aid to Ukraine pressuring the country to investigate his political opponents, effectively inviting foreign meddling in the 2020 election.
During and after his contacts with Ukraine, Democrats claim, Trump committed two impeachable offenses: abuse of power, and obstruction of Congress.
Earlier this week, the House voted to impeach Trump. Kinzinger, like all GOP lawmakers, voted against impeachment. Nearly all Democrats supported the impeachment articles, which will eventually move to the GOP-controlled Senate.