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Democratic lawmakers seek records on Russian ventilators

President Donald Trump listens during a Cabinet Meeting in the East Room of the White House, Tuesday, May 19, 2020, in Washington. (Evan Vucci / AP)
President Donald Trump listens during a Cabinet Meeting in the East Room of the White House, Tuesday, May 19, 2020, in Washington. (Evan Vucci / AP)
By Kevin Freking Associated Press

WASHINGTON – House Democrats are calling on the Trump administration to provide records related to the purchase of ventilators from Russia, asserting that the machines were not only unsafe for use but also were made by a subsidiary of a Russian company under U.S. sanctions.

The lawmakers, who lead five House committees and subcommittees, sent the request to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

They are protesting that the U.S. donated hundreds of ventilators to Russia after buying machines from Moscow in the early weeks of the pandemic that were not immediately usable. The same model, Aventa-M, reportedly caused fires in Moscow and St. Petersburg.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has confirmed that no Aventa-M ventilators purchased from Russia have been used in the U.S., but lawmakers still have concerns.

“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,” the lawmakers wrote.

The lawmakers said the State Department received a final invoice from Russia for $659,283. They are seeking all records and communications between the State Department and the White House related to the shipments and a summary of a March 30 call between President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin, as well as other records.

The White House referred questions to the State Department, which did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

After earlier concerns about a shortage of ventilators, the Trump administation now says the U.S. has a surplus and has begun to sell or donate ventilators to other nations dealing with an influx of patients with COVID-19. The president has been describing the U.S. as the “king of ventilators.“

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