In my view, Joe Biden’s kisses and hugs should be a non-story, and would be but for the desire of left-wing Democrats to prevent him from being the party’s nominee. Here, though, is what may well be a genuine Biden scandal.
According to John Solomon of The Hill, then-Vice President Biden strong armed Ukraine into firing its chief prosecutor who, at the time, was investigating a company that employed Biden’s son, Hunter. Biden himself confesses to the strong arming part. Indeed, in 2018 he boasted about it:
Two years after leaving office, Joe Biden couldn’t resist the temptation last year to brag to an audience of foreign policy specialists about the time as vice president that he strong-armed Ukraine into firing its top prosecutor.
In his own words, with video cameras rolling, Biden described how he threatened Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko in March 2016 that the Obama administration would pull $1 billion in U.S. loan guarantees, sending the former Soviet republic toward insolvency, if it didn’t immediately fire Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin.
“I said, ‘You’re not getting the billion.’ I’m going to be leaving here in, I think it was about six hours. I looked at them and said: ‘I’m leaving in six hours. If the prosecutor is not fired, you’re not getting the money,’” Biden recalled telling Poroshenko.
“Well, son of a bitch, he got fired. And they put in place someone who was solid at the time,” Biden told the Council on Foreign Relations event, insisting that President Obama was in on the threat.
Like Obama once said: “Nobody messes with Joe.”
But what was Biden’s beef with the Ukrainian Prosecutor General, Viktor Shokin? It might have been, at least in part, the fact that Shokin was being criticized for not bringing enough corruption prosecutions.
It seems very strange, though, that an American Vice President would issue the kind of ultimatum Biden delivered — fire a prosecutor within six hours or lose $1 billion in loan guarantees — over an internal matter — a shortage of corruption prosecutions. Has the U.S. ever intervened in this fashion to remedy defects in a nation’s criminal justice system?
It’s particularly odd that a Vice President would make such a threat to an ally that was under siege from Russia. The loss of $1 billion in loan guarantees would have been a huge blow to Ukraine and a boon to Russia, given the state of relations between the two countries.
If President Trump even mooted the notion of such a cut-off, it would be viewed in many quarters as evidence of collusion.
The other explanation for Biden’s ultimatum is that Shokin, whatever corruption he might not have been investigating, was leading a wide-ranging corruption probe into the natural gas firm Burisma Holdings, a firm that employed Hunter Biden as a board member.
According to Solomon:
U.S. banking records show Hunter Biden’s American-based firm, Rosemont Seneca Partners LLC, received regular transfers into one of its accounts — usually more than $166,000 a month — from Burisma from spring 2014 through fall 2015, during a period when Vice President Biden was the main U.S. official dealing with Ukraine and its tense relations with Russia.
The general prosecutor’s official file for the Burisma probe — shared with me by senior Ukrainian officials — shows prosecutors identified Hunter Biden, business partner Devon Archer and their firm, Rosemont Seneca, as potential recipients of money.
Shokin told me in written answers to questions that, before he was fired as general prosecutor, he had made “specific plans” for the investigation that “included interrogations and other crime-investigation procedures into all members of the executive board, including Hunter Biden.”
The ouster of Shokin and his replacement by someone “solid at the time” pretty much let Burisma off the hook, says Solomon. Only after Biden made his boast did the “solid” prosecutor revisit the matter. Now that same prosecutor says he has information he’d like to present to Attorney General William Barr.
Go for it.
Did Biden know about the Burisma probe and his son’s role in the matter? There can be no genuine doubt that Biden knew about his son’s role. His office was quoted in a New York Times article as acknowledging Hunter Biden’s role in Burisma. The article appeared four months before Biden forced Shokin out. That same article discussed the Burisma case.
Moreover, Biden would not have demanded Shokin’s ouster without having some knowledge about the prosecutor’s job performance — knowledge that inevitably would come, in large part, from our diplomatic mission to Ukraine. According to Solomon, the U.S. Embassy in Kiev that coordinated Biden’s work in the country repeatedly and publicly discussed the general prosecutor’s case against Burisma.
Thus, we seem to have a genuine Joe Biden scandal here.
Solomon suggests the following questions for Biden:
Was it appropriate for your son and his firm to cash in on Ukraine while you served as point man for Ukraine policy? What work was performed for the money Hunter Biden’s firm received? Did you know about the Burisma probe? And when it was publicly announced that your son worked for Burisma, should you have recused yourself from leveraging a U.S. policy to pressure the prosecutor who very publicly pursued Burisma?
The last of these questions answers itself.