News & Politics

Conspiracy Watch: No, Steny Hoyer Did Not Falsify Expense Reports to Hide Ukraine Trip

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Fake news hurts us all, so when rumors come up making salacious claims that could help Republicans, many people want to believe it. The spread of political rumors around social media leads to widespread accusations that Trump supporters are responsible for disseminating false information, which leads to bans and censorship. It behooves us all to vet every story before sharing it and especially be wary of Twitter reports that haven’t been verified by news organizations. A tweet thread making its way around MAGA Twitter is claiming that Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) falsified expense reports for a U.S. delegation that went on a trip to Ukraine, while concealing that he smuggled Adam Schiff there (in his carry-on luggage or something) in order to take him to see President Zelensky on the sly while hiding all evidence of it from the record. Read the whole thread if you want, but I will summarize below.

 

Nick Fad claims that Steny Hoyer’s delegation during the summer of 2019 went to Denmark, Ukraine, Hungary, and Luxembourg, but Hoyer left off the Ukraine portion of the trip on his expense report, perhaps to hide that Adam Schiff went along with him. To back this up, there are news reports of the trip and an expense report from Hoyer’s office. Contrary to the claims of the commenters that this is somehow “real investigative journalism,” the most important element of any investigation is missing: verify your claims BEFORE tweeting them out to the world! The expense report Fad posted was real and it really does look like Hoyer could have fudged it to make the Denmark trip longer than it was reported in the news. According to the majority leader’s own press report, he was scheduled to be in Ukraine with the delegation on June 30. He even tweeted about it.

Ukrainian news also reported that the delegation was coming, putting out a report on June 29, 2019, that repeated the announcement from Hoyer’s office. “A delegation of U.S. congressmen, within the framework of the European tour, will visit Ukraine on June 30 – July 1, where it will meet with President Volodymyr Zelensky and Andriy Kobolev, the head of the NJSC Naftogaz Ukrainy, the Ukrainian Embassy to the United States has reported.” But when Hoyer submitted an expense report for the trip, you can clearly see that there is no reference to Ukraine and instead, the dates that they were reported to have been there are now referenced under Denmark.

Screenshot via Twitter

To the curious onlooker who despises Democrats, it looks bad. But the only way to find out what happened, instead of wild speculation, is to call up the congressmen who went on this trip and ask them (something that Twitter rumor-mongers don’t do but took me about an hour and a half). The answer is far less exciting than whatever the internet is cooking up: it never happened.

Congressman Cole’s office was the first to respond. “While the group planned on making a stop in Ukraine …there were issues with plane transportation, so they did not end up going. Per the announcement release, those members traveling with Leader Hoyer were Reps. Tom Cole (OK-04), Steve Cohen (TN-09), Garret Graves (LA-06) and Val Demings (FL-10).”

Congressman Hoyer’s office responded within minutes of Cole’s with the same explanation. “Unfortunately, there was an issue with the flight to Ukraine, so the Members were unable to visit. The article you reference was based on the press release we sent out at the beginning of the trip, which announced that there would be a meeting, but because of the flight problem, the meeting did not happen.”

WOMP WOMP.

As for Schiff, his trip was separate from Hoyer’s so he wouldn’t be on Hoyer’s expense report. If a person wanted his expenses from the Denmark trip, all they would need to do is submit a FOIA request for the reports to the chairman’s office. The conspiracy says that Schiff was supposedly leading his own delegation (which Hoyer’s office confirmed), but the people who were slated to go on it weren’t there. That’s possible. Plans change. But it doesn’t add up to a grand conspiracy with falsified expense reports and secret trips to Ukraine.

I beg you people, stop it. There’s enough real evidence that the Democrats hatched a coup against the president without resorting to making stuff up. I had to spend most of my day on this and need to get back to real news.

 

Megan Fox is the author of “Believe Evidence; The Death of Due Process from Salome to #MeToo,” and host of The Fringe podcast. Follow on Twitter @MeganFoxWriter