East Palestine mayor: Biden Ukraine visit ‘biggest slap in the face’

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The mayor of East Palestine, Ohio, on Monday said that President Biden’s visit to Ukraine was the “biggest slap in the face” as his town continues to deal with the chemical fallout from a train derailment.

During an appearance on Fox News, East Palestine Mayor Trent Conaway was asked to give his thoughts on Biden’s surprise visit to Kyiv on Monday while he is in Poland for an international trip.

“That was the biggest slap in the face that tells you right now, he doesn’t care about us,” Conaway told host Jesse Watters. “So … he can send every agency he wants to but I found that out this morning and one of the briefings that he was in the Ukraine giving millions of dollars away to people over there, not to us and I’m furious.”

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“Yeah, Presidents Day in our country. He’s … over in Ukraine,” he added. “So that tells you what kind of guy he is.”

Biden made the visit to Kyiv to visit Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky just days before the first anniversary of Russia’s invasion of the country.

Biden said the surprise trip was meant to show U.S. support and solidarity for Ukraine while he also announced an additional $500 million in aid to the country.

Conaway’s remarks come as prominent GOP figures in the past day have criticized Biden for neglecting domestic issues such as immigration and national security with his surprise trip to Ukraine.

“We have a lot of problems accumulating here in our own country that he is neglecting,” Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) said during a Fox News interview, noting ongoing issues plaguing the country such as poverty, immigration and national security.

The GOP has also been critical of the Biden administration’s handling of the derailment of a Norfolk Southern train carrying toxic chemicals near the Pennsylvania state line earlier this month. The incident caused a massive fire and prompted authorities to evacuate about half of the 4,800 residents in the surrounding area.

Norfolk Southern has said some of the rail cars were carrying hazardous materials including vinyl chloride, combustible liquids, butyl acrylate and benzene residue, as well as other nonhazardous materials.

The East Palestine Fire Department last week informed village residents that they are able to return to their homes, but cautioned them to avoid the area surrounding the railway as residents questioned whether the air and water around them is safe for people, pets and livestock in the aftermath of the incident.

In response, Norfolk Southern Railway announced it will launch a $1 million charitable fund initiative to help the East Palestine community, which included providing more than 100 air purifiers for residents to use in their homes.

— Updated at 10:02 a.m.

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