Rep. Adam Schiff is one of Donald Trump’s fiercest, most relentless critics. He still insists there was collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign and is a primary mover behind the current efforts to impeach the president.
But Schiff has his own connections to Ukraine that may raise troubling questions about a conflict of interest.
Schiff’s ties to a wealthy Russian-American businessman doing business in Ukraine have recently come to light. Igor Pasternak is CEO of Worldwide Aeros Corp., a company that makes blimps for the military and commercial sectors. The company also makes a modified version of the M4 and M16 rifles that are manufactured in Ukraine. His connection to Pasternak, who is doing business with the Ukrainian government, could be construed as being a conflict of interest in his committee’s investigation.
In 2013, Pasternak hosted a fundraiser in Washington for Schiff, who later came to embrace a strong stance in support of the United States sending military aid to Ukraine during its conflict with Russia.
“Before this time, Schiff rarely, if ever, mentioned Ukraine,” Fox News’ Laura Ingraham said on her show Thursday night, after detailing Schiff’s connection to Pasternak. “But after the fundraiser, he used multiple television appearances to basically demand that we send money and arms to them.”
Schiff’s abrupt shift on supplying arms to the nation where his benefactor owns a large company might raise a few eyebrows. Pasternak’s efforts to win military contracts from the Ukrainian government makes one wonder what else Schiff might have done to help his supporter.
In 2017, Pasternak was quoted in Newsweek talking about his company’s efforts to produce a variant of the M16 rifle in Ukraine. “The M16 project was conceived some time ago, as the Ukrainian armed forces, border guards and National Guard will with time switch to NATO standards,” Pasternak said during a press conference in Kiev at the time.
Talk show host Laura Ingraham sums up Schiff’s problems:
Ingraham went on to question why the press has ignored these allegedly glaring connections while doggedly chasing Trump’s possible ties.
“Why isn’t anyone asking more questions about Schiff’s place at the center of the left’s new Ukraine hysteria?” she asked.
“I went back and I looked at some of the liberals who were writing about Schiff and this guy, Pasternak, who did some fundraisers for him. Nothing illegal about doing fundraisers for him, but liberals were kind of concerned that someone like Schiff would be going after — would be the one they choose to go after Trump.”
Inevitably, people are going to start pointing to a double standard:
She also claimed Democrats were concerned about the optics of a double standard when Schiff became one of the standard-bearers for impeachment.
“The liberals weren’t all that wild about the idea of this Schiff character pushing the Trump narrative, because they thought, he’s kind of a pro-military expenditure, ra-ra, get more money over to these other governments. They weren’t thrilled about that,” Ingraham said.
Trump is already on this angle, but it remains to be seen whether Democrats can keep ignoring it after Republicans begin asking whether Schiff should recuse himself from the investigations.