As in any political battle, truth has been one of the major casualties of the impeachment proceedings against President Donald J. Trump.
While the Democratic impeachment managers have accused Trump repeatedly of dishonesty – often with good reason – they themselves have twisted the truth to serve their own political agenda.
Impeachment manager Adam Schiff, for example, claimed that "more than 15,000 Ukrainians have died fighting Russian forces and their proxies" and that the military aid [which Trump subverted] was for "such essentials as sniper rifles, rocket propelled grenade launchers, radar… and other support for the war effort."
While the military aid may have assisted the war effort, Schiff’s comments are misleading because the majority of those killed have been Eastern Ukrainians who died at the hands of the Ukrainian military that the U.S. has armed – not the Russians.
The UN Monitoring Mission on Human Rights determined that of the approximately 13,000 people killed between April 2014 and December 2018, 3,300 of the victims were civilians, 4,000 were Ukrainian military and 5,500 "Russian-backed armed militants."
Thus, according to Schiff, Russia is responsible for killing 5,500 of its own men!
Human Rights Watch found that the Ukrainian military actually caused many of the civilian deaths by "us[ing] explosive weapons with wide-area effect in populated areas, including near school buildings, in violation of international humanitarian law."
But this doesn’t fit with Schiff’s alarmist views about Russia, which are straight out of the 1950s McCarthy era.
At the hearings, Schiff frequently referenced the danger of "Russian expansion" and its efforts to "remake the map of Europe" and quoted a witness who stated that "the US aids Ukraine and her people so that they can fight Russia over there, and we don’t have to fight Russia here."
Sounding like Ronald Reagan or any one of the most hawkish of cold warriors, this assessment has no basis in reality.
Among other things, it ignores that Russia under Putin was the first country to offer sympathy to the US following the 9/11 terrorist attacks and has repeatedly pushed for better diplomatic relations.
Schiff’s misinformation extends to his defense of Joe Biden.
In his opening statement, Schiff claimed that Biden never wanted the "corrupt prosecutor removed in order to stop an investigation into Burisma Holdings, on whose board Biden’s son Hunter sat."
However, Biden has been filmed in a speech before the Council on Foreign Relations bragging about his efforts to blackmail the Ukrainian government by threatening to withhold a $1 billion loan if that prosecutor, Viktor Shokin, was not removed.
Shokin had never actually been censured or indicted for corruption, although his successor, Yuriy Lutsenko was.
The latter settled the case with Burisma and its chief executive Mykola Zlochevsky by allowing it to pay a $7 million fine when the company stood accused of evading $40 million in taxes – a clear victory for Burisma.
Lutsenko did not even have a law degree and has been characterized by Ukrainian officials as a crooked political appointee of Ukraine’s former Prime-Minister Petro Poroshenko, whom Biden had cultivated close ties with. (For more information on this see Olivier Berrayer’s documentary, Ukraine-Gate – Inconvenient Facts.
Schiff and other Democratic Impeachment Managers such as Sylvia Garcia of Texas claimed that under Shokin the investigation against Burisma had lain "dormant."
However, Shokin told ABC News in an interview – which was conveniently never aired – that this was not true and that the case was proceeding prior to his removal in February 2016.
The Ukraine-Gate saga has commanded a huge amount of attention and contributed to the rising fame of Schiff who has been praised in some circles for his magnificent performance.
By spreading misleading or outright false information about Russia and Ukraine, and drumming up anti-Russian sentiment, the consequences of the hearings, however, could be even more damaging then the Trump presidency.
Jeremy Kuzmarov is author of The Russians are Coming, Again: The First Cold War as Tragedy, the Second as Farce (New York: Monthly Review, 2018), with John Marciano, and Obama’s Unending Wars: Fronting the Foreign Policy of the Permanent Warfare State (Atlanta: Clarity Press, 2019) among other works. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.