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Why the new 'controversy' over Ukraine aid isn't controversial at all

Rubio suggested Biden did the same thing Trump was impeached over in 2019. The argument is plainly ridiculous.

At first blush, this Politico report from late last week has a familiar feel to it.

The Biden White House has temporarily halted a military aid package to Ukraine that would include lethal weapons, a plan originally made in response to aggressive Russian troop movements along Ukraine's border this spring. The aid package would be worth up to $100 million, according to four people familiar with internal deliberations.

As the reporting explained, the aid package was crafted in response to a Russian military buildup, but ahead of last week's summit between President Joe Biden and President Vladimir Putin, Moscow announced plans to draw down troop level near the Ukrainian border.

Should the circumstances warrant it, the military aid could still be dispatched to our allies in Kiev. What's more, this is just part of a larger picture: as White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki explained in a written statement, "The idea that we have held back security assistance to Ukraine is nonsense. Just last week -- in the run-up to the U.S.-Russia Summit -- we provided a $150 million package of security assistance, including lethal assistance."

This hardly seems like the stuff of a political controversy, though Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) turned to social media to push a curious line: "Remember when freezing military aid to Ukraine was an impeachable offense?"

Well, no, not really.

Around this time two years ago, Donald Trump also froze military aid to Ukraine, not in response to Russian troop deployments, but as part of a corrupt extortion scheme: the Republican hatched a plan to leverage U.S. assistance in the hopes that Ukrainian officials would help Trump cheat in the 2020 presidential election.

During a notorious phone meeting, when Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky stressed the importance of lethal aid, the then-U.S. president famously replied, "I would like you to do us a favor, though."

It led to the first of Trump's two impeachments, not because he froze military aid to Ukraine, but because he used U.S. resources as part of illegal extortion plan.

Whether Rubio intended to do this or not, he highlighted a critical difference between the two presidents: the Biden and Trump administrations superficially took similar steps, but only one of them engaged in brazen corruption.

It was, incidentally, corruption Rubio was quick to shrug off: the Florida senator, like nearly every other congressional Republican, voted against holding Trump accountable for his venality.

Perhaps Rubio is aware of these relevant details and thought his tweet would be amusing. Maybe he's genuinely confused and published this tweet because he doesn't understand the relevant details.

Or perhaps Rubio knows how foolish the comparison is, but hopes some of the Republican base will be fooled into thinking there's a controversy where none exists.