NBC’s Guthrie Actually Presses WH on Compromising, Accountability for Ukraine Funding

Continuing her pattern of grilling Biden officials (see here for one from September and past examples), NBC’s Today co-host Savannah Guthrie did the same on Tuesday in pressing the National Security Council’s John Kirby for specifics echoed by Republicans — instead of merely scoffing at them — on why Congress should grant billions of additional dollars to Ukraine in its war against Russia.

Guthrie eventually pivoted to a series of questions about the Israel-Hamas war and what (if anything) is known about the remaining Americans held hostage by Hamas terrorists, but not before starting with Ukraine.

These two questions were refreshing given the liberal media’s penchant for typically putting the onus on Republicans to ‘compromise’ with Democrats: “How confident are you that this funding will be passed? And can you send a signal how far is the White House willing to concede and make some concessions to get this deal done?”

Kirby had a somewhat optimistic tone, citing “strong bipartisan support up on Capitol Hill, Savannah, for supporting Ukraine” across “both chambers and…both parties” even though it’s unclear whether there will be an “agreement.”

“Now, the President has said and he’ll repeatedly say that we’re willing to make compromises here. That’s what negotiating is all about. That’s what governing is all about and he does believe in more border security,” he added.

After Kirby argued the country can’t “let our support for Ukraine lapse as these critical winter months are approaching,” Guthrie reminded Kirby of the reality that “there has been significant erosion in polling for American support for continuing aid at this level for Ukraine.”

Guthrie elaborated that, as part of this erosion, Americans have seen Congress dole out $110 billion with no end to the war in sight and the White House asking over half that in $60 billion of new support, so “Americans are looking for an end game.”

“Can you say that, if this aid package is passed, it will be decisive, that there’s a strategy to follow it up, that it’s not just funding a stalemate or a war in perpetuity,” she asked.

Kirby demurred, saying he “couldn’t tell you with any great specificity” if this would help end the war other than it’s “critical” to “absolutely help[ing] Ukraine claw back even more of their territory and try to kick the Russians right out of Ukraine to restore their own territorial integrity.”

And, he insisted, American dollars being shelled out “will also help encourage other nations to continue their support for Ukraine,” which was likely a fancy way of saying it’d allow Europe to send less aid than they arguably should for a war far closer to their borders.

In a setup for this interview, chief White House correspondent Peter Alexander highlighted the skepticism to endless Ukraine aid and calls by Republicans for both border security measures and, for those who support Ukraine, accountability mechanisms.

While CBS’s Weijia Jiang also managed to do this on CBS Mornings, chief Biden apple polisher Mary Bruce of ABC shilled on Good Morning America:

Well, President Zelenskyy is here to make an urgent last ditch plea for more aid. Ee going to argue that this is life or death for his country, but Republicans have shown no intention of backing off their demands. They are adamant. They are not going to pass additional funding for the fight in Ukraine without major changes to U.S. immigration policy. Some Republicans even opposed to anymore aid for Ukraine at all. The White House has been blunt. They are running out of time here. They say U.S. funds for Ukraine’s defense will run out at the end of the year and the White House is warning they could lose this war. And that, they say, could have dire consequences for U.S. national security and our international interests. But, right now, it is not clear how they make their way out of this. It is not clear what is going to satisfy Republicans’ demands or how far President Biden is willing to go to compromise. And there is not a lot of time left here. Congress is set to head out of town at the end of the week for the holiday recess[.]

To see the relevant transcript from December 12, click “expand.”

NBC’s Today [via Houston’s KPRC]
December 12, 2023
8:12 a.m. Eastern

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: Let’s start with Ukraine because President Zelenskyy is coming today and he’s hoping to not leave empty handed. How confident are you that this funding will be passed? And can you send a signal how far is the White House willing to concede and make some concessions to get this deal done?

JOHN KIRBY: Well, we’re confident that there’s strong bipartisan support up on Capitol Hill, Savannah, for supporting Ukraine. That’s clear in both chambers and, of course, across both — in both parties. What’s not clear is whether or not the Senate can come to some sort of agreement here and get something up to the — to the President. Now, the President has said and he’ll repeatedly say that we’re willing to make compromises here. That’s what negotiating is all about. That’s what governing is all about and he does believe in more border security. That’s why there was additional funding — $6 billion in the supplemental request we turned in just to help with border security. So, we’re willing to have that discussion, but we can’t let Ukraine lapse. We can’t let our support for Ukraine lapse as these critical winter months are approaching us.

GUTHRIE: As you well know, there has been significant erosion in polling for American support for continuing aid at this level for Ukraine. Congress already approved more than $110 billion. This request is for another $60 billion. I mean, Americans are looking for an end game here. Can you say that, if this aid package is passed, it will be decisive, that there’s a strategy to follow it up, that it’s not just funding a stalemate or a war in perpetuity?

KIRBY: What I can assure the American people is that this additional funding will absolutely help Ukraine claw back even more of their territory and try to kick the Russians right out of Ukraine to restore their own territorial integrity. These — this is critical funding for critical systems that will absolutely have a profound impact on the battlefield for the Ukrainian soldiers. It will also help encourage other nations to continue their support for Ukraine. Now, how long that fight is going to go? I couldn’t tell you with any great specificity, but this — this kind of funding for these kinds of systems are critical right now.

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