In a now notorious July 25 conversation, President Trump asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to “look into” Ukraine’s role in efforts to interfere in the 2016 election as well as the dealings of Joe Biden and his son Hunter with the notoriously corrupt country.
Whether or not Trump’s ham-fisted conversation with Zelensky rises to an impeachable offense, the American people have legitimate reasons to be curious about both issues — and especially the Biden family’s blatant conflicts of interest abroad as Joe Biden seeks the presidency.
Biden has been leading the Democratic field. The central case for his candidacy rests on the supposedly exemplary work he did as a senior member of Team Obama. Well, in 2016, acting as the Obama administration’s point man in Ukraine, the vice president — unlike Trump — openly threatened to withhold $1 billion in American loan guarantees if the embattled nation didn’t fire the country’s top prosecutor, Viktor Shokin.
As Biden later bragged, “I looked at them and said, ‘I’m leaving in six hours. If the prosecutor is not fired, you’re not getting the money.’ Well, son of a bitch. He got fired.’ ”
Most of the media assure us that, though by the Democrats’ new standards this kind of intimidation constitutes a flagrant abuse of power, Biden’s reasons for threatening Ukraine were chaste.
But simply repeating this talking point doesn’t make it true. Granted, Shokin was a shady character. Yet at some point he had been investigating Burisma, the largest gas company in Ukraine, which also happened to be paying Hunter Biden a $50,000 monthly salary as a board member.
By coincidence, Hunter had landed this cushy gig in a foreign country only a few months after the Obama administration began dispatching his father, Joe, to the very same foreign country on a regular basis.
There was, of course, absolutely nothing in Hunter’s résumé to indicate that he would be a valuable addition to foreign energy interest. He didn’t speak the language, and he had no particular expertise in the energy industry. Oh, he did have one thing, though: his last name.
I suppose, that isn’t entirely fair. Hunter once ran a hedge fund with his dad’s brother, James Biden, and associated with a notorious Ponzi schemer. James would go on to snag a job as executive vice president of a construction company in 2010, despite having virtually no experience in the field. And only a few months into his tenure, the company would win one of its biggest contracts in its history, a $1.5 billion deal to build affordable homes in Iraq.
By pure happenstance, Joe was also the Obama administration’s point man in Iraq at the time. Funny how these things work out.
Liberal reporters, who are framing Trump’s conversation with Zelensky as the most perilous threat in the republic’s history, have shown little curiosity about Biden’s dealings with the Ukrainian government. Many media personalities, in fact, have rallied to Biden’s defense, calling any intimation of wrongdoing a smear.
NBC’s Chuck Todd dismissed any Biden talk as a mere distraction. CNN called questions into the former vice president’s actions “baseless.” Other liberals now argue that the Biden firing of Shokin actually worked against the interests of Hunter.
We have no way of knowing if this is true, either. According to The New York Times, Hunter’s work for Burisma had “prompted concerns” among Obama administration State Department officials, because it undermined diplomacy in Ukraine. Was Biden really the only person available to pressure Ukrainian officials while his son was raking in the cash? Does anyone really believe Biden’s claims that he never once spoke to his 49-year-old son about business in the two years they spent working in the same country?
Now, perhaps Hunter didn’t break any Ukrainian laws. That doesn’t mean a proper investigation couldn’t turn up unethical or dishonest behavior. What we already know is that the Biden family business reeks of cronyism.
When these allegations were recently brought up to Biden by Fox News, an indignant former vice president pointed his finger at the reporter and demanded he “ask the right questions!” After being insulated in the Obama administration for so many years, it isn’t surprising that Biden feels betrayed by any scrutiny. But despite the gaslighting of his allies, Biden’s role in the Ukrainian affair is a completely legitimate line of inquiry.
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