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Tipsheet

Democrats Own The Ukraine Scandal

AP Photo/Nati Harnik

President Donald Trump did voters a favor in reacting with candor immediately to charges of a quid pro quo with Ukraine because what’s emerging is a scandal that actually involves former Vice President Joe Biden, and a general Democrat strategy of projection on the part of the Democrat party.

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The Hill’s John Solomon reported late Thursday that “once-secret memos” have now been released that shed doubt on Biden’s claims that his attempts to strong arm Ukraine to fire a prosecutor looking into corruption at Burisma Holdings, LLC (where his son Hunter sat on the board) were above-board.

In fact, Solomon’s reporting shows that Biden’s moves look more like an attempt to paint “a false picture in Ukraine that helped ease Burisma’s legal troubles and stop prosecutors’ plans to interview Hunter Biden during the 2016 U.S. presidential election.”

Meanwhile, Donald Trump’s willingness to release the transcript of his phone call with new Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky provides a useful comparison between the past strategy of obfuscation and the new strategy (so far) of transparency. It also sheds light on a general trend by past Democrat leaders to project their own sins onto the Trump administration.

Solomon reports that questions have been swirling about Hunter Biden’s role with Ukrainian energy company Burisma since a 2015 New York Times article revealed his association. And that the Ukrainians, fearing ethics violations, began working to get information to the U.S. about the firing of the prosecutor looking into Burisma since 2018, but were initially rebuffed.

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Ukrainian prosecutors say they have tried to get this information to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) since the summer of 2018, fearing it might be evidence of possible violations of U.S. ethics laws. First, they hired a former federal prosecutor to bring the information to the U.S. attorney in New York, who, they say, showed no interest. Then, the Ukrainians reached out to President Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani.

Ukraine’s new president, Volodymyr Zelensky, told Trump in July that he plans to launch his own wide-ranging investigation into what happened with the Biden's and Burisma.

“I’m knowledgeable about the situation,” Zelensky told Trump, asking the American president to forward any evidence he might know about. "The issue of the investigation of the case is actually the issue of making sure to restore the honesty so we will take care of that and will work on the investigation of the case.”

Biden later bragged that he pressured Ukraine to fire the prosecutor investigating Burisma by threatening to withhold $1 billion in U.S. loan guarantees. The former Vice President said later that this strong-arming was born of a concern about corruption. Solomon’s reporting questions that motive.

Comparing Trump’s transparency on Ukraine to Biden’s attempts to create a false narrative make Democrat allegations that Trump is not acting on the up and up hypocritical at best. Even more interesting is that Democrats seem to be employing a strategy of accusing their political opponents of the very things they have done, up to and including the new furor over Trump’s decision to move some documents to a more secure government server. Democrat outrage over that is laughable when one recalls Hillary Clinton’s decision to keep classified documents on a unsecured server in her bathroom.

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As the Ukraine story continues to play out, voters will have an increasingly easy choice to make in 2020: do they want an administration that immediately declassifies information that has been alleged to be questionable, or one that spends months and millions on hearings, while pointing a dirty finger at their political opponents, to divert attention away from information also deemed questionable?

Sarah Lee is a freelance writer and policy wonk living and working in Washington, DC.

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