congress

Bipartisan group of senators to meet with Ukrainian president

The trip comes soon after Trump was acquitted in an impeachment trial that centered on his pressure campaign against Ukraine.

Chris Murphy

A trio of senators will meet with Ukrainian President Volodymr Zelensky on Friday, just a week after the Senate acquitted President Donald Trump on charges he abused his power by asking Zelensky to investigate Joe Biden, a 2020 rival.

Sens. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) and Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) will meet with Zelensky in Kyiv, the senators said on Wednesday afternoon.

“The U.S.-Ukraine relationship is as important now as ever. The future of Ukraine matters to the United States and we must make sure Ukraine knows that we view them as a strategic ally,” the senators said in a statement. “This is why we’re going to Kyiv as a bipartisan delegation to reinforce our support with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.”

The move shows an attempt to return to normalcy in the region after the impeachment inquiry upended U.S. relations with a key ally.

Johnson and Murphy traveled together to Ukraine last year to visit Zelensky, and despite their sharp differences over Trump's impeachment have been leading advocates for a bipartisan posture toward Ukraine. Trump was impeached for delaying aid to Ukraine and requesting Zelensky investigate the Bidens for corruption, an effort the House deemed an abuse of power.

In an interview, Murphy said the senators may discuss economic support and security aid.

“One way to make clear that Ukraine is not a political football is for a bipartisan group of senators on opposite sides of the impeachment vote to go see Zelenky and to convey support," Murphy said.

Still, he said he would express to Zelensky his discomfort with Rudy Giuliani, who has continued his efforts to attack the Bidens in Ukraine. Hunter Biden, Joe Biden's son, served on the board of a Ukrainian energy company when Joe Biden was vice president, though there's no evidence of wrongdoing.

“I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn't raise the danger of Giuliani’s continued overtures in Ukraine. So I'm sure that we will talk about the need to keep U.S.-Ukraine policy separated in the 2020 election. That’s obviously the issue I raised with him in September,” Murphy said of his conversation with Zelensky last year. “It goes without saying at this point, Zelensky knows which side of the line to stay on."