Ukraine revealing GOP’s drift from Trump: The Note

The crisis has been coursing through primaries in unexpected ways.

March 17, 2022, 6:00 AM

The TAKE with Rick Klein

A party remade by former President Donald Trump is in the process of being remade again.

Republican officeholders and office seekers aren't keen to admit it, but for most of them Russia's invasion of Ukraine has them publicly agreeing more on the substance with President Joe Biden than with Trump.

That comes through in the raucous bipartisan reception Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy got in front of Congress and also in Biden's agreement with a unanimous Senate that Russian President Vladimir Putin is a "war criminal."

The crisis has been coursing through GOP primaries in unexpected ways. Ohio Senate candidate J.D. Vance -- among those pursuing Trump's endorsement in the May 3 primary -- labeled the invasion a "tragedy" after first saying on Steve Bannon's podcast last month that "I don't really care what happens to Ukraine one way or another."

Former President Donald Trump speaks to the crowd during a rally at the Florence Regional Airport, March 12, 2022, in Florence, S.C.
Sean Rayford/Getty Images

In North Carolina, Trump's favored candidate, Rep. Ted Budd, is on the receiving end of a harsh attack ad from a rival Republican featuring a clip with Budd calling Putin "a very intelligent actor." (Some quotes in the ad are taken out of context, though the issue only came up because Trump called Putin "pretty smart" for trying to overrun Ukraine.)

Even where Republicans are offering sharp critiques of Biden -- blasting the president for not moving enough lethal aid quickly enough to Ukrainians -- there are limits that speak to how the GOP is changing. Virtually no major Republican figures are calling for perhaps the most hawkish action Zelenskyy wants -- American enforcement of a no-fly zone.

It has fallen to some of the staunchest Trump loyalists to offer major differences of opinion. Rep. Madison Cawthorn, R-N.C., on Wednesday blasted "neocons both on the left and in my party who clamor for war at every chance they get" -- a week after calling Zelenskyy a "thug."

The RUNDOWN with Averi Harper

A couple of House progressives are taking the Biden administration to task for its treatment of Haitians who seek asylum in the United States.

In a letter, Reps. Mondaire Jones, D-N.Y., and Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass., have called on the Department of Homeland Security to halt deportations and expulsions of people to Haiti. The Biden administration has continued to invoke Title 42, a policy started under the Trump administration, which allows migrants to be turned away without a chance to have their asylum claims heard.

Rep. Ayanna Pressley addresses demonstrators participating in the "Stand with Ukraine" march in Boston, March 6, 2022.
SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

The pair of lawmakers cited the July 2021 assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse and the aftermath of the 7.2 magnitude earthquake that rocked the island nation in August as reasons they believe returning migrants to Haiti is dangerous. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas has previously claimed it is safe enough for asylum-seekers to return.

The lawmakers contrasted the ongoing expulsions to policy changes intended to welcome Ukrainian refugees.

"Recently, on March 3, Immigration and Customs Enforcement suspended deportation flights to Ukraine in response to the 'ongoing humanitarian crisis' there — a justified and important exercise of your enforcement discretion," wrote the lawmakers. "There is every reason to extend that same level of compassion and exercise that same discretion to suspend deportations to Haiti."

The Biden administration has deported or expelled more than 20,000 migrants to Haiti since Biden was inaugurated, according to the advocacy group Washington Office on Latin America.

The TIP with Hannah Demissie

The idea of disgraced former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo making a political comeback is starting to look like a real possibility.

After he resigned last year amid multiple allegations of sexual harassment, Cuomo is now considering a run for his former job against the very woman who replaced him, Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul, according to reporting by CNBC published Wednesday.

Aides of Cuomo have been conducting internal polling on how he would perform against Hochul in the New York primary.

Governor Andrew Cuomo holds press briefing and makes announcement to combat COVID-19 Delta variant in New York, Aug. 2, 2021.
Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images

Cuomo entered 2022 with a $16 million campaign war chest. But even though his supporters are encouraging him to run for office, many leaders in his own party do not support the idea.

New York Democratic Party Chair Jay Jacobs told CNBC he thinks "it would be a bad mistake."

Talk of a Cuomo bid comes as an audit released Tuesday shows the Cuomo administration did not publicly account for the deaths of nearly 4,100 nursing home residents during the pandemic.

NUMBER OF THE DAY, powered by FiveThirtyEight

18. That's the number of districts where Latinos constitute a majority of the voting-age population in California, which marks an increase of five districts since the 2010 redistricting cycle. This makes California by far the biggest source of new Latino seats in the country. More broadly, it underscores the growing political clout of Latino voters in this redistricting cycle, accounting for more than 51% of the country's growth from 2010 to 2020. But as FiveThirtyEight’s Nathaniel Rakich writes, that’s essentially the extent of this redistricting cycle's gains when it comes to the representation of people of color. In fact, there are many districts where nonwhite voters' power -- particularly Black voters' power -- has been eroded.


ABC News' "Start Here" Podcast. Start Here begins Thursday morning with ABC’s Mary Bruce on Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s emotional address to Congress. Then, ABC’s Elizabeth Schulze breaks down what to expect from the first interest rate hike in more than three years. And, ABC’s Christine Theodorou details the aftermath of the strong earthquake that hit Japan.


  • White House press secretary Jen Psaki holds a briefing at 2 p.m.
  • The Senate Armed Services Committee receives a closed briefing on Russia's invasion of Ukraine at 9:30 a.m.
  • The Senate Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe holds a hearing to examine the Baltics under pressure at 10 a.m.
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