Joe Biden urges media to focus on his set of Ukraine facts

by WorldTribune Staff, January 23, 2020

In a memo from his campaign this week, Joe Biden warned the media that reporting on the allegations against his son Hunter Biden, a central figure in the impeachment case against President Donald Trump, would make them “enablers of misinformation.”

While he was vice president, and the Obama administration’s point man on Ukraine, Biden forced the firing of Ukraine’s top prosecutor, who was investigating the Ukrainian company, Burisma Holdings, where Hunter Biden worked as a highly compensated board member despite a total lack of experience.

The Biden campaign warned the media against covering the Joe Biden/Hunter Biden scandal. / C-SPAN

Nevertheless, the Biden memo calls the allegation a “conspiracy theory” and specifically blames investigative reporter John Solomon, who has been out front in the Joe Biden/Hunter Biden scandal coverage.

Even as the memo was being circulated, a report said that Hunter Biden was preparing in the event that he is called to testify in the Senate impeachment trial.

“Hunter is taking no chances, he knows that he could get called as a witness any day so he wants to be fully prepared, he’s going over every fine detail,” a source told the Daily Mail on Wednesday. “He’s taking the trial very seriously and wants to make sure he’s ready for whatever the Republicans throw at him.”

The Washington Post on Wednesday quoted Joe Biden himself as saying that it “looked bad” that Hunter Biden was on the Burisma board.

“No one has suggested my son did anything wrong,” Biden said, according to the Post. “There’s nobody that’s indicated there’s a single solitary thing he did that was inappropriate or wrong — other than the appearance. It looked bad that he was there.”

The Biden campaign memo claims there is no evidence that either of the Bidens’ conduct raised any concern, and that Ukrainian Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin’s investigation was “dormant” when Joe Biden forced the prosecutor to be fired.

“But the memo omits critical impeachment testimony and other evidence that paint a far different portrait than Biden’s there’s-nothing-to-talk-about-here rebuttal,” Solomon noted in a Jan. 21 report.

Solomon went on to list the public evidence:

Fact: Joe Biden admitted to forcing Shokin’s firing in March 2016.

It is irrefutable, and not a conspiracy theory, that Joe Biden bragged in a 2018 speech to a foreign policy group that he threatened in March 2016 to withhold $1 billion in U.S. aid to Kiev if then-Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko didn’t immediately fire Shokin.

Fact: Shokin’s prosecutors were actively investigating Burisma when he was fired.

While some news organizations cited by the Biden memo have reported the investigation was “dormant” in March 2016, official files released by the Ukrainian prosecutor general’s office, in fact, show there was substantial investigative activity in the weeks just before Joe Biden forced Shokin’s firing.

The corruption investigations into Burisma and its founder began in 2014. Around the same time, Hunter Biden and his U.S. business partner Devon Archer were added to Burisma’s board, and their Rosemont Seneca Bohais firm began receiving regular $166,666 monthly payments, which totaled nearly $2 million a year. Both banks records seized by the FBI in America and Burisma’s own ledgers in Ukraine confirm these payments.

In mid-February 2016, Latvian law enforcement sent an alert to Ukrainian prosecutors flagging several payments from Burisma to American accounts as “suspicious.” The payments included some monies to Hunter Biden’s and Devon Archer’s firm. Latvian authorities recently confirmed it sent the alert.

Shokin told both Solomon and ABC News that just before he was fired under pressure from Joe Biden he also was making plans to interview Hunter Biden.

Fact: Burisma’s lawyers in 2016 were pressing U.S. and Ukrainian authorities to end the corruption investigations.

Burisma’s main U.S. lawyer, John Buretta, acknowledged in a February 2017 interview with a Ukrainian newspaper that the company remained under investigation in 2016, until he negotiated for one case to be dismissed and the other to be settled by payment of a large tax penalty.

Documents released under an open records lawsuit show Burisma’s legal team was pressuring the U.S. State Department in February 2016 to end the corruption allegations against the gas firm and specifically invoked Hunter Biden’s name as part of the campaign. You can read those documents here.

Fact: There is substantial evidence Joe Biden and his office knew about the Burisma probe and his son’s role as a board member.

The New York Times reported in December 2015 that the Burisma investigation was ongoing and Hunter Biden’s role in the company was undercutting Joe Biden’s push to fight Ukrainian corruption. The article quoted the vice president’s office.

In addition, Hunter Biden acknowledged in an interview published in the New Yorker last July that he had discussed his Burisma job with his father on one occasion and that his father responded by saying he hoped the younger Biden knew what he was doing.

And when America’s new ambassador to Ukraine was being confirmed in 2016 before the Senate she was specifically advised to refer questions about Hunter Biden, Burisma and the probe to Joe Biden’s VP office, according to State Department documents.

Fact: Federal Ethics rules require government officials to avoid taking policy actions affecting close relatives.

Office of Government Ethics rules require all government officials to recuse themselves from any policy actions that could impact a close relative or cause a reasonable person to see the appearance of a conflict of interest or question their impartiality.

“The impartiality rule requires an employee to consider appearance concerns before participating in a particular matter if someone close to the employee is involved as a party to the matter,” these rules state. “This requirement to refrain from participating (or recuse) is designed to avoid the appearance of favoritism in government decision-making.”

Fact: Multiple State Department officials testified the Bidens’ dealings in Ukraine created the appearance of a conflict of interest.

In House impeachment testimony, Obama-era State Department officials declared the juxtaposition of Joe Biden overseeing Ukraine policy, including the anti-corruption efforts, at the same time his son Hunter worked for a Ukraine gas firm under corruption investigation created the appearance of a conflict of interest.

In fact, deputy assistant secretary of state George Kent said he was so concerned by Burisma’s corrupt reputation that he blocked a project the State Department had with Burisma and tried to warn Joe Biden’s office about the concerns about an apparent conflict of interest.

Likewise, the House Democrats’ star impeachment witness, former U.S. Ambassador Marie Yovanovich, agreed the Bidens’ role in Ukraine created an ethics issue. “I think that it could raise the appearance of a conflict of interest,” she testified.

Fact: Hunter Biden acknowledged he may have gotten his Burisma job solely because of his last name.

In an interview last summer, Hunter Biden said it might have been a “mistake” to serve on the Burisma board and that it was possible he was hired simply because of his proximity to the vice president.

“If your last name wasn’t Biden, do you think you would’ve been asked to be on the board of Burisma?,” a reporter asked.

“I don’t know. I don’t know. Probably not, in retrospect,” Hunter Biden answered. “But that’s — you know — I don’t think that there’s a lot of things that would have happened in my life if my last name wasn’t Biden.”

Fact: Ukraine law enforcement reopened the Burisma investigation in early 2019, well before President Trump mentioned the matter to Ukraine’s new president Volodymyr Zelensky.

This may be the single biggest under-reported fact in the impeachment scandal: four months before Trump and Zelensky had their infamous phone call, Ukraine law enforcement officials officially reopened their investigation into Burisma and its founder.

The effort began independent of Trump or his lawyer Rudy Giuliani’s legal work. In fact, it was the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine (NABU) – the very agency Joe Biden and the Obama administration helped start – that recommended in February 2019 to reopen the probe.

NABU director Artem Sytnyk announced that he was recommending a new notice of suspicion be opened to launch the case against Burisma and its founder because of new evidence uncovered by detectives.

Ukrainian officials said that new evidence included records suggesting a possible money laundering scheme dating to 2010 and continuing until 2015.

In March 2019, Deputy Prosecutor General Konstantin Kulyk officially filed a notice of suspicion reopening the case.

And Reuters recently quoted Ukrainian officials as saying the ongoing probe was expanded to allegations of theft of public funds.

The implications of this timetable are significant to the Trump impeachment trial because the president couldn’t have pressured Ukraine to reopen the investigation in July 2019 when Kiev had already done so on its own, months earlier.

Solomon’s complete timeline of all the key events in the Ukraine scandal can be seen here


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