Republican Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul defended his decision to place a hold on a $40 billion aid package to Ukraine during a Friday interview with WMAL host and Daily Caller editorial director Vince Coglianese.
Paul demanded that Congress insert a provision into the aid package creating an inspector general to oversee the distribution of the aid. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell offered an amendment to the package, but Paul demanded that the bill be rewritten to include the inspector general from the start. Any individual senator can place a hold on a vote.
“Sending $40 billion to another country without having someone look and make sure no one is stealing the money is a recipe for disaster. We were in Afghanistan for 20 years, sending $50 billion a year, and we would discover that they were building luxury hotels with our money, halfway building them, contractors were running off with the money. Building highways to nowhere, building natural gas gas stations. The reason we discovered this was we had a special inspector general that looked after and ferreted out the waste,” Paul told Coglianese.
The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) released numerous reports detailing the mishandling of American taxpayer funds in Afghanistan. The SIGAR found that the U.S. spent almost $800 billion on gender equity programs, and detailed serial sexual misconduct among U.S.-backed Afghan troops. (RELATED: Widows Of Afghan Soldiers Forced To Perform ‘Sexual Favors’ To Receive Pension Benefits)
Paul explained that most Americans support Ukraine in its fight against Russia, and argued that asking questions about American funds does not make him pro-Putin.
“It doesn’t mean we can’t be sympathetic. It doesn’t mean we can’t be helpful,” he said. “But, we need to keep in perspective that Zelenskyy is a heroic figure, he does appear to be standing up for his country, but the country of Ukraine, for the past ten years, has been in the top ten for corruption. They’ve got their own oligarch problem. There are Russian oligarchs, there are Ukrainian oligarchs. Doesn’t make their cause any less empathetic. But it does mean we have to be careful.”
Paul also criticized the late Republican Arizona Sen. John McCain, who he famously feuded with on foreign policy issues. McCain claimed in 2017 that Paul was “working for Vladimir Putin” after Paul objected to Montenegro’s entrance into the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).
“It’s always easy to make stupid accusations like that,” Paul told Coglianese of claims that he is a “Putin apologist.”
“McCain made those stupid accusations against me, and it comes out now that McCain was riding around on a Russian oligarch’s yacht. So I think those are the sort of empty accusations that come from people who don’t want to think,” he continued.
Congress approved $13.6 billion in aid for Ukraine in March, although President Joe Biden said that that package will run out by May 19.