Kinzinger says Johnson ‘doesn’t have the political acumen’ to cut deal with Dems on Ukraine aid

Former Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) said Monday he doesn’t think Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) has the “political acumen” to cut a deal with Democrats and pass Ukraine aid.

“I think, from what I’ve heard, that Speaker Johnson in his heart would pass Ukraine tomorrow if he could, or tonight if he could,” Kinzinger told CNN’s Kaitlan Collins on Monday.

“The problem is he doesn’t have the political acumen, apparently, to be able to just put it on the floor and say, ‘You know what, Freedom Caucus? You guys want to try to vacate the chair? Fine, do it.’ And then he can cut a deal with the Democrats to save him if necessary,” he added.

Kinzinger’s remarks came after Collins interviewed Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky, who said Johnson assured him of his support for Ukraine.

“When we spoke to each other, he said that he will do everything to support Ukraine, and he’s on our side, and he understands how heroic our people, our soldiers, and civilians and etc. And he said … that his prayers are with us, and he said that he will do it,” Zelensky told Collins in the interview, which was recorded Sunday, about his conversation with Johnson.

“I have to trust. I have to trust,” Zelensky told Collins earlier, about Johnson’s support. “But we will see.”

Kinzinger responded to Zelensky’s faith in Johnson, saying, “Well, I hope he’s right,” and adding that they “obviously … had private conversations.”

Kinzinger stressed the importance of passing Ukraine aid and slammed his former Republican colleagues for not having the courage to push Johnson to take action.

“They will build statues to Speaker Johnson in Kyiv” if he passes Ukraine aid, Kinzinger said. “The thing is, these men and women have an opportunity to be known in history. If just four of them go to Speaker Johnson and say we’re going to shut down all rules … all action on the floor until you put this Ukraine aid on the floor, he’d do it in a week.”

“There’s ways to get it done,” Kinzinger added. “He has to be emboldened by the rank-and-file Republicans to push against the Freedom Caucus.”

Kinzinger’s comments come more than four months since President Biden’s most recent request for Ukraine aid. The Senate passed an aid package, which included $60 billion in aid for Ukraine, but Johnson has refused to put the bill on the floor for a vote. U.S. legislators have sought alternative paths to passing what many experts say is necessary aid to Ukraine, but the funding remains stalled in Congress.

The Hill has reached out to Johnson’s office for comment.

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