President Trump could be considered an accessory to murder for withholding aid from Ukraine in the face of Russian aggression, former congressman Barney Frank said Friday.
Mr. Frank, a Massachusetts Democrat who served in the House of Representatives for more than 20 years, made the suggestion on HBO’s “Real Time with Bill Maher” while discussing newly launched efforts in Congress to impeach Mr. Trump over his July phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
“I almost got the feeling it was like trying Al Capone for tax evasion,” Mr. Frank said about earlier efforts to remove Mr. Trump from office. “But now we got him for extortion and being an accessory, I believe, to murder.”
“Let’s be clear: murder by the Russians of Ukrainians,” Mr. Frank clarified.
Congress had previously approved hundreds of millions of dollars worth of weapons and other aid for Ukraine, a former Soviet state under threat from neighboring Russia, but the assistance was withheld by the White House while the president’s personal attorney, Rudolph Giuliani, pushed Kyiv to dig up dirt on 2020 Democratic candidate and former Vice President Joseph R. Biden.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat, launched the start of an impeachment inquiry Tuesday after Mr. Trump acknowledged discussing Mr. Biden during a July phone call with Mr. Zelensky before eventually releasing the assistance to Ukraine.
A rough transcript of the call subsequently issued by the White House shows Mr. Trump asked Mr. Zelensky to “do us a favor” by investigating Mr. Biden and his son, Hunter, ahead of releasing the aid. Mr. Trump and his defenders have denied it constituted a quid pro quo.
Russians were “invading a peaceful, democratic country,” and Mr. Trump “was delaying the self-defense weapons that Ukraine needed,” Mr. Frank said on “Real Time.”
The United Nations previously assessed that 13,000 people have been killed in eastern Ukraine since Russian-backed separatists seized parts of the country in 2014.
The White House did not immediately return a message requesting comment.
Mr. Frank, 79, retired from Congress in 2013. He held the role of the top Democrat on the key House Financial Services Committee during his last decade in office.