Joe Biden’s excuse for forcing Ukraine to sack its chief prosecutor is bogus

There is no dispute that, as vice president and point man on U.S. policy towards Ukraine, Joe Biden caused the Ukrainian government to sack its lead prosecutor, Viktor Shokin. Biden has bragged about doing so.

There is also evidence that, before his removal, Shokin was investigating Burisma, the shady company on whose board Hunter Biden served. And there’s no dispute that Hunter Biden had no background relevant to Ukraine or the work Burisma did. He has acknowledged that, but for his status as Joe Biden’s son, he would not have been asked to serve on Burisma’s board.

However, Joe Biden has claimed that he had the Ukrainian prosecutor dumped not to help Burisma, but to combat corruption. According to Joe and his defenders, the prosecutor in question wasn’t doing enough in this regard.

But if a desire to combat corruption was the reason for Joe Biden’s involvement in what normally would be a decision for the Ukrainian government to make on its own, it should be the case that Ukraine replaced its allegedly lax chief prosecutor with a strong, competent prosecutor who could be expected to take a tough action against corruption.

However, Glenn Greenwald shows that this wasn’t the case. Indeed, he calls Yuriy Lutsenko, Shokin’s replacement as prosecutor, “a joke.” Greenwald writes:

Not only was the new prosecutor appointed after Biden coerced the Ukrainian Government someone with no legal experience [note, or even a law degree], he himself had a history of corruption.

In a prior job, Lutsenko had been jailed for embezzlement and abuse of office (but released after a few years for reasons of his health). Earlier in his career, he had resigned as interior minister after being detained by police in Frankfurt for being drunk and disorderly.

One Ukrainian reformer said this about Lutsenko’s elevation to top prosecutor:

All his actions will be the imitation of work. The basic idea is making sure nothing gets done. It is clear that the oligarchs will be untouchable, that the basic units of kleptocracy in the SBU [security service], courts and prosecutors will also remain intact.

Burisma and the oligarchs who ran it were among the “untouchables.”

It seems clear, therefore, that Joe Biden’s motive in demanding the removal of Shokin was not, as Greenwald puts it, “noble anti-corruption fervor.” Biden wasn’t interested in fighting corruption in Ukraine. Otherwise, he would have used the same power he exercised in dumping Shokin to replace him with a serious prosecutor.

What was Joe Biden interested in? Promoting his son’s business dealings, from some of which he (“the big guy”) apparently got a cut.