Hillary Clinton had a private unauthorized email server from which she did all of her official business as secretary of state. The nation’s top diplomat under Obama was using an unsecured server. She might have mishandled classified information. As the 2016 Democratic nominee for president, that’s a story. For 2020, it’s also a story if there was a conflict of interest between the vice president of the United States and his son serving on the board of an energy company for which he has zero experience in such a field.
The Democrats have tried to use this phone call President Trump had with Volodymyr Zelensky in July as their casus belli to launch an impeachment inquiry. They allege that Trump threatened to withhold aid unless Ukraine opened a corruption probe into Hunter Biden, son of Joe Biden. The White House released a transcript of the call, none of this was mentioned. There was no Tony Soprano shakedown. It’s an even shoddier narrative than the Russian collusion myth.
And yet, as much as the media wants to dig into the palace intrigue of the Trump-Ukraine non-troversy, Joe Biden’s name keeps coming up. Why? Well, there could be something here. why was Hunter on the board of Burisma without having any experience in the energy sector, being paid $50,000/month while his dad was still VP. Sounds like an access point, right? The Biden camp has been abysmal responding to this story, which has only increased scrutiny. Biden’s answer at the most recent debate was garbage as well. Someone on Fox News (it was the radio so I couldn’t get the name) pretty much nailed the campaign’s line: we did nothing wrong, but we’ll never do it again.
Now, we have some diplomat saying he raised concerns about the Biden-Ukraine arrangement but was “rebuffed” back in 2015, according to The Washington Post. The publication also noted the Democrats danger in going hardcore on this impeachment push based on this Ukraine phone call Trump had; it keeps the Biden angle in the news. And it’s not going away anytime soon:
A career State Department official overseeing Ukraine policy told congressional investigators this week that he had raised concerns in early 2015 about then-Vice President Joe Biden’s son serving on the board of a Ukrainian energy company but was turned away by a Biden staffer, according to three people familiar with the testimony.
George Kent, a deputy assistant secretary of state, testified Tuesday that he worried that Hunter Biden’s position at the firm Burisma Holdings would complicate efforts by U.S. diplomats to convey to Ukrainian officials the importance of avoiding conflicts of interest, said the people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of confidentiality rules surrounding the deposition.
Kent said he had concerns that Ukrainian officials would view Hunter Biden as a conduit for currying influence with his father, said the people. But when Kent raised the issue with Biden’s office…
The testimony by Kent offers a reminder that as Democrats probe President Trump’s alleged actions in pressuring Ukraine to dig up compromising information on Biden, the impeachment inquiry also threatens to keep alive questions about the former vice president’s handling of his son’s foreign work at a precarious moment for his 2020 presidential campaign.
Biden’s defenders said that at the time this issue was brought up, the vice president was dealing with his son’s brain cancer. Still, the whole situation remains shaky for the Biden camp. Over at The Federalist, Sean Davis wrote that it was the Obama administration that facilitated the firing of the prosecutor looking into Burisma on corruption charges:
A top U.S. diplomat and expert on Ukraine testified to Congress yesterday that the Obama administration — with former Vice President Joe Biden as its point man — orchestrated the firing of the Ukrainian prosecutor who was investigating a company connected to the Biden family, sources familiar with the testimony told The Federalist.
The testimony of George Kent, a State Department official who works on the agency’s Ukraine portfolio, directly contradicts claims that the Obama administration was merely following the lead of the so-called international community in demanding the firing of Viktor Shokin, a controversial Ukrainian prosecutor who was reportedly investigating Burisma, a global energy company long suspected of corruption and money laundering. In 2014, Burisma paid Hunter Biden, Joe Biden’s son, tens of thousands of dollars to sit on its board despite the younger Biden’s complete lack of expertise or professional experience running a multi-national oil and gas concern.
Kent told lawmakers on Tuesday that the Obama administration spearheaded the efforts to have Shokin removed from his position as the top federal prosecutor in Ukraine. Kent said the international community — namely the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and Western nations within the European Union — were deferential to U.S. directives on the matter. At a 2018 event organized by the Council on Foreign Relations, Joe Biden — who was tasked by then-President Barack Obama to lead the U.S. government’s efforts in Ukraine — bragged about threatening to withhold a billion-dollar loan guarantee if the Ukrainian government refused to fire Shokin.
After Shokin was fired, he was replaced by Yuri Lutsenko, who also has been dogged by allegations of corruption. The Obama administration never demanded Lutsenko’s ouster, despite worries that Lutsenko was similarly corrupt and untrustworthy.
So, while we’re on the subject of quid pro quo, maybe it’s Biden and not Trump that should be worried.