During a Tuesday hearing of the House Armed Services Committee, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) challenged two officials associated with the Defense Department about certain circumstances surrounding the assistance the U.S. has provided Ukraine — and according to any reasonable estimation, it didn’t play out with a great look for the Congressman.
Gaetz cited — apparently without even knowing its source! — reporting alleging individuals involved with the controversial Azov battalion in Ukraine benefited from some of what the U.S. has given… reporting that originated with a Chinese propaganda source. It was left to Colin Kahl, a current Under Secretary at the Defense Department dealing with policy, to point out the origin of the claims. “I seek unanimous consent to enter into the record the Global Times investigative report that talks about training,” Gaetz said during five minutes he had for questioning the officials on Tuesday. “It’s from the Atlantic Council’s digital forensics research lab, citing that the Azov battalion was even getting stuff as far back as 2018.” Gaetz asked whether Kahl had “reason to disagree,” to which the official replied with the facts.
“Is this the Global Times from China?” Kahl asked. Gaetz initially replied it wasn’t, then acknowledged that, well, it was. “I don’t have any evidence one way or the other,” Kahl replied. “As a general matter, I don’t take Beijing’s propaganda at face value.” Gaetz subsequently moved on, attempting to question Kahl about U.S. aid that’s been provided in support of pension funds in Ukraine — which Kahl noted wasn’t the work of the Defense Department. Wouldn’t Gaetz want to ask personnel from the Defense Department about areas of policy actually within the purview of the Defense Department? Kahl noted the discrepancy in his reply.
At an earlier point in his questioning, Gaetz tried to ask the current inspector general overseeing the Defense Department in what is an oversight role about whether the U.S. adhered to requirements for monitoring the use of military assistance provided outside the country of the sort that’s been given to Ukraine, and that official tried to explain that relevant reviews are ongoing, but Gaetz wasn’t listening.
The Congressman instead focused on that the official, Robert Storch, was ostensibly unable to say the U.S. was adhering to those policy demands… but if reviews are ongoing, he couldn’t say that the U.S. wasn’t adhering to those requirements either. It was entirely inconclusive questioning. Gaetz is also among those behind a barely supported resolution previously proposed in the House that opposes further U.S. help for Ukraine amid its war with Russia. This U.S. assistance has not consisted of direct involvement in the conflict, and there’s no indication such will take place in the future. Check out Gaetz’s flop below:
Kahl: "I don't take Beijing's propaganda at face value."
Gaetz: "Fair enough." pic.twitter.com/9XQewKdZeA
— CSPAN (@cspan) February 28, 2023