Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX), the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, suggested during an interview Sunday that Russia’s war in Ukraine would already be over if President Joe Biden had given the Ukrainians the weapons they needed.
McCaul made the remarks during an interview with ABC News host Martha Raddatz on “This Week.”
“I was at the Munich Security Conference, met with a lot of the high-ranking military officials, including our supreme allied commander. They’re all in favor of us putting not only F-16s in but longer-range artillery, to take out the Iranian drones in Crimea,” McCaul said. “In fact, the word I kept hearing was, ‘We need to put everything we have into there.’ I know the administration says, ‘as long as it takes.’ I think, with the right weapons, it shouldn’t take so long. And, quite frankly, Martha, this whole thing is taking too long, and it really didn’t have to happen this way.”
McCaul said the Biden administration’s “slow-walk and slow-pace” in delivering weapons to Ukraine was “precisely what Putin wants.”
“I think, with enough pressure from Congress on both sides of the aisle, we can get into Ukraine what they really need to win this fight,” he added. “Otherwise, what are we doing in Ukraine?”
McCaul said that Republicans are leading the way with audits showing where the weapons are going because the GOP wants to ensure that resources given to Ukraine are being used for their intended purposes.
MARTHA RADDATZ, ABC NEWS HOST: Congressman McCaul joins us now. Good to see you.
We’ve all been in Ukraine this week. You met with President Zelenskyy. You said, in Ukraine, while you were there, that you’re seeing increasing momentum towards getting long-range missiles and F-16. You heard what President Biden said. You heard what Jake Sullivan said. It doesn’t look like it.
REP. MICHAEL MCCAUL, (R) TEXAS: Yeah, that’s unfortunate. I was at the Munich Security Conference, met with a lot of the high-ranking military officials, including our supreme allied commander. They’re all in favor of us putting not only F-16s in but longer-range artillery, to take out the Iranian drones in Crimea.
In fact, the word I kept hearing was “We need to put everything we have into there.” I know the administration says, “as long as it takes.” I think, with the right weapons, it shouldn’t take so long. And, quite frankly, Martha, this whole thing is taking too long, and it really didn’t have to happen this way.
RADDATZ: But — but you heard Jake Sullivan say, “Look, our military is looking at the ground. What they need right now is tanks. What they need is infantry.” Why do you think F-16s would make a difference?
MCCAUL: Because it can travel the entire country with great speed. It can knock out targets. It can protect the country.
RADDATZ: Also can get shot down. There are a lot of air defenses, especially over on the border.
MCCAUL: It — it could. And, you know, but the fact is, if we don’t give them — if they don’t get the momentum right now, with the Russian offensive coming into country right now, they have a window of time with the counteroffensive.
That’s why it’s important — when I talked to these top military officers, give them everything they — that you can now so they can win this thing. When we give them what they — what they can really use and ask for, they win. When we slow-walk and slow-pace this thing, it drags it out, and that’s precisely what Putin wants.
RADDATZ: What could you do, at this point, as chair — at this point, legislatively? Is there really anything you could do?
MCCAUL: Yeah, well, we can certainly write into our appropriations bills prioritizing weapon systems. And we intend to do that. But in addition, Martha, this was a bipartisan delegation to Munich. My delegation in — in Ukraine all agreed with Zelenskyy that the ATACMS and the F-16s were appropriate right now.
I talked to General Milley last night. I don’t think it’s off the table. I think, with enough pressure from Congress on both sides of the aisle, we can get into Ukraine what they really need to win this fight. Otherwise, what are we doing in Ukraine?
RADDATZ: And — and even if they don’t want them now, do you think they should start training?
MCCAUL: For god’s sakes. I mean, it takes three to six months to train. We need to do this now.
And I know the argument is, well, we need to look at the budget. The fact is, you heard with the Abrams tanks, they won’t go in for another year.
I’ve met with the Ukrainians being trained by the Poles on the Leopard tanks, which will go in in two weeks as this offensive takes place. Two weeks. That’s going to be a bit of a game changer as well.
And I hope we can change the course and directions the administration has with respect to the military strategy.
RADDATZ: I want to talk about China. What do you know about China possibly providing lethal aid to Russia? And how do you think the U.S. should respond to it?
MCCAUL: Well, Chairman Xi and Putin are they have this unholy alliance since the Beijing Olympics. He called Putin — Xi called Putin as his best friend several years ago.
We do know their — we have intelligence that’s been reported that they are contemplating sending 100 drones into Russia. We also know they’re buying all their energy from them, economically supporting them.
RADDATZ: You say it’s been reported. Do you know that’s what they’re looking at, is sending in drones?
MCCAUL: And other lethal weapons.
RADDATZ: Like what?
MCCAUL: I can’t get into that.
The fact is — the fact that they’re going to meet next week, Chairman Xi and Putin, to discuss this unholy alliance that they have, to put weapons into Ukraine, to me is very disturbing because while maybe Ukraine today, it’s going to be Taiwan tomorrow. That’s why this is so important.
RADDATZ: You know a big deal this week has been that President Biden was in Ukraine. He wasn’t in East Palestine where that train derailed with those toxic chemicals. Republican Josh Hawley said this week that the Republican Party can be the party of Ukraine and globalists or the party of East Palestine and working Americans, not both.
Do you agree with that?
MCCAUL: I think that’s the false choice. I think the president should have gone to Palestine, where we had this major chemical spill. But it doesn’t mean we disregard what’s happening, this struggle for the global balance of power that we’re facing right now. We haven’t seen anything like this since my father’s generation, World War II — largest invasion in Europe, the biggest threat to the Pacific since World War II.
We can’t throw our head in the sand and ignore this. Otherwise, the Russians will be on the Polish border and Chairman Xi will invade Taiwan.
I think we can do both. We’re a great nation.
RADDATZ: An ABC/Washington Post poll earlier this month found that 50 percent of Republicans believe the U.S. is doing too much to support Ukraine. We know you care very much about that. That’s up from 18 percent last April.
So, why is this support slipping? And how will you approach that and what can you do about that?
MCCAUL: I think because it’s taken too long. We’re not giving them the weapons systems they need that, when we talk to President Zelenskyy, when I talk to our top military commander, say that they need artillery (ph) right now. Let’s put that in.
RADDATZ: The president, by the way, says that military advisers tell him they don’t need those.
MCCAUL: When supreme allied commander speaks, I listen.
And just when they unlock the Leopard tanks with Germany, putting in some Abrams tanks, we can do the same thing with all these other aircraft, the F-16s, ATACMS —
RADDATZ: But are you worried about the aid? Are you worried about the aid in this coming year? You can see there’s some Ukraine fatigue. Clearly, one of the reasons President Biden went over there was to get support.
MCCAUL: Of course. I mean, I am. I still think the majority in the Congress support this. They also want to know — they want accountability to the taxpayer. I did a firsthand, you know, look at this in theater in Ukraine and in Poland, about the humanitarian assistance.
We have three IG (ph) audits right now. We have an audit by Deloitte. We also have in-use monitoring on the weapons and barcoding systems. They want to know that their money is being spent wisely.
And I think once they know that, they will stand — what would Reagan do, I would ask my fellow colleagues, right? What would he do? He brought down the Soviet Union. I think he would stand for freedom and democracy.
RADDATZ: I want to ask you one final question here and back to Congress, about Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene. This week, she repeatedly called for a national divorce, to separate the country by red and blue states.
This is what she tweeted: We need a national divorce. We need to separate by red states and blue states and shrink the federal government. Everyone I talk to says this. From the sick and disgusting woke culture issue shoved down our throats to the Democrat’s traitorous America last policies, we are done.
When I asked you last month about — about her serving on the Homeland Security Committee, you said you think she has matured and is trying to become a team player.
Do you still think that when you hear something like that?
MCCAUL: No, I don’t speak for her. The great thing about this country is we can have political dialogue, discourse. We are democracy. We have differences of opinions.
I will say a divisive rhetoric I think polarizes this nation and I think it hurts this nation. I think what we need today is a voice that can unify the nation, on things that really matter, like the economy, like the border, like, you know, the largest invasion in Europe since World War II, and a threat to the Pacific.
We should all be standing as Americans. I think when I go out across the country, that’s what people want to hear.
RADDATZ: OK. Thanks very much for joining us, Congressman. Appreciate it.
MCCAUL: Thanks, Martha.