How the Trump Era Is Dividing Republicans Over Ukraine Aid – Vanity Fair

When Russia invaded Ukraine, it became immediately clear that the Republican Party was going to have to have a reckoning; after four years of Donald Trump, the party’s America First, isolationist faction feels emboldened, and in direct opposition to the establishment conservative ethos calling for robust military intervention against Vladimir Putin’s incursion. As the war escalates, and Congress pushes through more and more funding to aid the Ukrainian defensive—with broad bipartisan support—this divide within the Republican Party keeps boiling over.

Look no further than a Twitter spat this week between two of the GOP’s most outspoken up-and-comers, Representatives Dan Crenshaw and Marjorie Taylor Greene. The clash began when Crenshaw defended his vote in favor of the funding via tweet. “Investing in the destruction of our adversary’s military, without losing a single American troop, strikes me as a good idea,” the Texas Republican tweeted.

While the majority of GOP House members still support the Biden administration’s position to send money to Ukraine without involving actual American troops––which includes sending state-of-the-art missile and drone systems––57 House Republicans voted against this week’s aid package. Among those opposed to the measure was Greene, who criticized Crenshaw’s tweet. “So you think we are funding a proxy war with Russia?” the Georgia lawmaker wrote. “You speak as if Ukrainian lives should be thrown away, as if they have no value. Just used and thrown away. For your proxy war? How does that help Americans? How does any of this help?” 

“Still going after that slot on Russia Today huh?” Crenshaw fired back at Greene. Greene continued to prod Crenshaw, asserting that U.S. sanctions against Russia are only “driving [up] inflation and fuel prices,” adding, “I refuse to vote for useless measures that cause problems but solve none. While you send $40 billion for your proxy war against Russia, I’m focused on baby formula for American babies.” She then seemingly described Crenshaw as just another “America last” politician. (It should be noted, these two politicians have a history of vitriol; in January, Crenshaw suggested Greene might be an “idiot” for opposing a COVID-19 relief bill that would mobilize the Federal Emergency Management Agency to set up testing sites.)

Greene’s viewpoint is espoused regularly by big right-wing pundits like Tucker Carlson, a leading voice among Republicans who think the United States shouldn’t get involved in the war in Ukraine—a coalition in the party that Ben Jacobs aptly called the “‘Putin Is Bad, But’ Republicans” in The Atlantic: “The broad consensus: Putin is bad, but why is that our problem?” Jacobs writes.

On Wednesday night, Carlson spent his show’s opening monologue shaming Republicans who backed aid to Ukraine and claiming that they believe “protecting Ukraine is way more important than protecting you, than protecting America.” He also aired a recent clip showing Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell calling the war in Ukraine “the most important thing going on in the world” while standing with Republican senators John Thune, John Barrasso, and Joni Ernst. Carlson reacted to the video by urging a “sincere billionaire…[to] fund a primary challenge against every single of those Republican senators standing by Mitch McConnell.” 

This Tucker Carlson wing of the party––or those who simply “don’t care,” as the Fox News host has put it in the past––might still be in the minority but their viewpoint is gaining ground. In late April, only 10 House GOP members voted against a measure to provide military equipment to Ukraine.

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