Withholding Ukraine aid 'The worst of weaponizing US foreign assistance': Menendez

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Ranking Member Sen. Bob Menendez is interviewed on "This Week" Sunday.
6:20 | 10/20/19

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Transcript for Withholding Ukraine aid 'The worst of weaponizing US foreign assistance': Menendez
We are back with the response to secretary Pompeo from the top Democrat on the senate foreign relations committee, Bob Menendez. Senator, welcome. You just heard the secretary of state. He said that our goals in the Middle East are still being served. We are still countering ISIS. We are still countering Iran. He said since the president's pullout, stability in the middle East has increased. Your response? Well, I think the secretary lives in a parallel alternate universe. What the president did is a betrayal of the kurds who fought and died alongside of us in pursuit of ending the threat of ISIS. It's a betrayal of our ally, the state of Israel, where, in fact, Iran now has an easier facility to have its land bridge with sophisticated weapons to try to attack Israel. It's a betrayal of our foreign policy to the Russians who are the big winners of this, and that's part of the problem here. All roads lead to Russia with the president and every time that there is an issue or a conflict, it seems that Russia ends up winning. And so, I see it totally different. I was at that white house meeting and I have to tell you when the president of the united States said we shouldn't worry about 7,000 miles away and those terrorists there, well, on September 11th they traveled over 7,000 miles and ultimately did the worst attack in our nation's history. So there's no guarantees that the administration has, as it relates to the reconfiguration of ISIS and the 10,000 ISIS fighters, that the kurds were detaining. There's no guarantees from Iran that they won't build their land bridge and threaten Israel. There's no guarantees about our interest. And in fact, Russia not only is going to have a major say about the future of Syria, everybody in the region is recalibrating and rethinking about what their alliances should be. The question is what can be done at this point? Senator Mcconnell, the Republican leader, said that the United States should prepare for the reintroduction of troops. President trump seems not interested in that at all. I know you've been working on a possible resolution condemning the president's action. Any progress there? Do you expect that that will be held up in the senate even though one has passed the house? First of all, you know, the president unleashed this disaster and I think that there's going to be a real threat to the kurds of ethnic cleansing. In terms of congress pushing back, the resolution that I sponsored with senator young in the senate, bipartisan resolution is the same that the house passed 354 to 60 condemning the president's actions and calling upon a change of course. Secondly, I have legislation with senator Risch, the chairman of the senate foreign relations committee, to do a series of things. A part of it is to sanction Turkey, also sanction Russia, also ask for a complete ISIS strategy as to how we finalize defeating ISIS because the department of defense inspector general tells us there are still 18,000 ISIS fighters in Syria. If the 10,000 that have been detained by the kurds get released, that's a potential fighting force of hardened fighters with 30,000. To me that's a clear and present danger to the united States and its security and interests. So our legislation would try to have a comprehensive approach and also to seek to provide some humanitarian and other assistance to the kurds, and we need to do this because if we send a global message, George, that, in fact, we will abandon those who have fought alongside with us, then others in the world when we are asking them to fight with us or for us will say why should I do that when you're finished using me we're going to die on the battlefield. Let's turn to the issue of Ukraine and the impeachment inquiry. You heard secretary Pompeo say that he did not see any conditioning of military aid on the pursuit of political investigations despite what he's heard -- what we heard from Mick Mulvaney. Based on everything you've seen, the testimony you've seen in the congress right now, the words of Mick Mulvaney, is there enough evidence for you as a juror to vote to convict if impeachment comes to you? Well George, I won't comment about what and if that moment comes wherein the house ultimately adopts articles of impeachment and then of course the senate will act as a jury so I'm not going to prejudice my views in that regard, but I will say this about the situation in Ukraine. The reality is, from my perspective as the senior Democrat on the senate foreign relations committee, what was done is extraordinary and extraordinarily wrong. The president extorted or is seeking to extort president zelensky of Ukraine. He held back over $400 million in foreign assistance that a bipartisan members of the congress voted to give Ukraine to fight who? To fight Russia. Once again Russia is involved. And the delaying of that was extraordinary. Normally once the department notices the office of management and budget that they want to expend the moneys, it takes five days. This took two months to ultimately finally get cleared, and clearly everything that led up to that call with president zelensky by president trump was all to exert pressure on Ukraine. It was the worst of weaponizing U.S. Foreign assistance. Does secretary Pompeo have a point about the process? Would it be more legitimate if the house passed a formal resolution on the floor authorizing inquiry and expanded the rights of the state department and the administration witnesses in that inquiry? First of all, there is absolutely no constitutional obligation for the house to do that and so they'll choose the process, but I laughed when I was hearing secretary Pompeo in his interview with you because the secretary and the state department have done everything humanly possible to impede, to obstruct and not to provide information. So now his call for being present, all he's ever said is no in the oversight of our committee, in the pursuit of the house's information, all he's ever said is no, obstruct, delay and ultimately not cooperate. So his desire now to cooperate is pretty amazing. Senator Menendez, thanks for your time this morning.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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