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How A Progressive Bid To Shape Ukraine Policy Imploded

The kerfuffle over a now-withdrawn letter from 30 House Democrats shows how the left is still struggling to communicate effectively on foreign policy.

A group of progressive lawmakers withdrew a high-profile letter intended to influence President Joe Biden’s Ukraine policy on Tuesday, just a day after it was sent to the White House.

The story behind the letter, which 30 House Democrats signed, is one of mismanagement by leadership, an alleged staff error and a failure to appreciate the sensitivities of discussing a brutal ongoing war. Multiple legislators were so surprised by the letter’s release — and the ensuing criticism — that they publicly rejected the document and said it was supposed to be sent much earlier under different circumstances.

Congressional Progressive Caucus Chair Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) ultimately agreed with them. In a statement Tuesday, she blamed her employees for releasing the letter and retracted it.

“The letter was drafted several months ago but, unfortunately, was released by staff without vetting. As chair of the Caucus, I accept responsibility for this,” Jayapal said. “Every war ends with diplomacy, and this one will too, after Ukrainian victory. The letter sent yesterday, although restating that basic principle, has been conflated with GOP opposition to support for the Ukrainians’ just defense of their national sovereignty. As such, it is a distraction at this time, and we withdraw the letter.”