Washington, D.C. (May 28, 2020)— Today, Oversight and Reform Committee Chairwoman Carolyn B. Maloney, Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot E. Engel, Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita M. Lowey, Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis Chairman James E. Clyburn, and Oversight and Reform National Security Subcommittee Chairman Stephen F. Lynch sent a letter to Secretary of State Michael Pompeo seeking information about President Donald Trump’s decision to spend U.S. taxpayer funds to purchase ventilators from Russian President Vladimir Putin that are not only unsafe for use in the United States, but were manufactured by a subsidiary of a Russian company currently under U.S. sanctions.
Their letter today follows a related letter the Chairs sent last week expressing grave concerns with President Trump’s decision to spend millions of U.S. taxpayer dollars to send hundreds of fully functioning U.S. ventilators to Putin for free despite urgent needs in the United States.
“Last week, we wrote to President Trump to express our grave concerns with his decision to spend millions of U.S. taxpayer dollars to send hundreds of ventilators for free to Russian President Vladimir Putin despite urgent needs here in the United States,” the Chairs wrote.
“Today, we are writing to request information about President Trump’s decision to purchase ventilators from President Putin that are not only unsafe for use in the United States, but were manufactured by a subsidiary of a Russian company currently under U.S. sanctions as a result of Russia’s 2014 aggression against Ukraine,” wrote the Chairs.
“These misguided decisions waste millions of U.S. taxpayer dollars, undermine our foreign policy and national security interests, and impair our nation’s ability to combat the coronavirus crisis,” the Chairs added.
According to a statement issued by the State Department on April 1, “As a follow-up to the March 30 phone call between President Trump and President Putin, the United States has agreed to purchase needed medical supplies, including ventilators and personal protection equipment, from Russia.” According to records from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the “State Department received a final invoice from the Government of Russia for $659,283.
The Russian ventilators reportedly were “not immediately useable because of voltage-related issues,” and the same model reportedly caused fires in Moscow and St. Petersburg that led to the deaths of six coronavirus patients. FEMA has confirmed that no ventilators purchased from Russia have been used in the United States.
According to press reports, many of these ventilators were supplied by Ural Instrument Engineering Plant, which is part of a company known as Radio-Electronic Technologies, a Russian holding company that “has been under U.S. Treasury sanctionssince July 2014, as part of the Ukraine and Crimea-related measures.”
The Chairs requested the State Department produce documents and information by June 10, 2020.
Click here to read today’s letter.