Oct 18, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Freedom Caucus chair floats potential Ukraine peace talks probe

Scott Perry

Scott Perry. Photo: Dylan Hollingsworth/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Rep. Scott Perry (R-Pa.), the chair of the right-wing Freedom Caucus, floated to colleagues the idea of laying the groundwork for an investigation into the Biden administration's approach to Russia-Ukraine peace talks, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: Republican criticism of President Biden's approach to the conflict has splintered as the conflict has dragged on. While establishment GOP senators have urged Biden to speed up and diversify weapon sales to Ukraine, MAGA-aligned Republicans have demanded Kyiv enter negotiations to avert the risk of nuclear escalation.

  • Perry's comments mirror the concerns of isolationists — on both the right and the left — who say the Western desire for an outright Ukrainian win could provoke a cornered Russian President Vladimir Putin to take drastic action, including a nuclear strike.
  • Ukrainians — and Biden — counter that Russia can end the war at any time by withdrawing its forces and that only the Ukrainian people have the right to determine the fate of their country.

Driving the news: In a text late last month to fellow Republican members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, screenshots of which were obtained by Axios, Perry asked whether they had sent a records preservation request to the administration — the first step toward an investigation.

  • "Have we requested any Administration conversations with [Ukrainian President Volodymyr] Zelensky this spring that included the proposition of an end to Russian occupation in exchange for Ukraine not joining NATO?" he wrote.
  • Perry said he is "completely opposed to Russian actions regarding Ukraine," but is "not in favor of war with Russia."
  • "If these nitwits in this jackwagon Administration are blundering us or intentionally marching us to war with Russia, nuclear or otherwise, we'd better start to preserve the evidence so there can be accountability."

Context: Early negotiations between Ukraine and Russia, which included proposals for Kyiv to formally abandon its NATO aspirations, collapsed as Vladimir Putin escalated his brutal assault on civilians.

Texts from Scott Perry
Axios Visuals

The big picture: Republicans are planning a vast array of investigations into the administration, including into Hunter Biden's business dealings in Ukraine and elsewhere, as well as the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan last year.

  • Perry's texts mark a rare instance of a proposed investigation into the administration's response to the war in Ukraine, which has largely received the support of Congress in the form of aid packages.
  • Spokespeople for Perry and the White House did not respond to requests for comment.
Go deeper