Just what did Joe Biden's son do in Ukraine? Reporters are revisiting the question as Democrats continue their impeachment probe of President Trump. After all, Trump is accused of pressuring Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky into investigating Hunter Biden's activities there. In what the Atlantic wryly calls "socially acceptable corruption," Hunter became a director of Ukraine's biggest natural-gas producer, Burisma, in 2014, with no prior experience and an obvious connection to President Obama's White House. Joe Biden, then vice president, visited Ukraine in 2015 to apparently urge officials to renew their own anti-corruption crusade. Now, the complications:
- Biden successfully pressured the Ukrainian government to fire top prosecutor Victor Shokin after he failed to properly investigate corruption—including at Burisma, per the Intercept. Biden even threatened to hold back $1 billion in US loan guarantees unless Shokin got kicked out. But Trump, Rudy Giuliani, and others claimed Biden was trying to curtail the Burisma investigation.
- Casting doubt on the official story, the Hill says Ukraine's top prosecutor still had cases open against Burisma in 2016. And Shokin claims in an affidavit for a European court that he was told Biden didn't like him investigating the gas company. "The truth is that I was forced out because I was leading a wide-ranging corruption probe into Burisma Holdings, a natural gas firm active in Ukraine and Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, was a member of the Board of Directors," he testified. Documents obtained by the FBI in an unrelated case show that Hunter and his business partner, Devon Archer, made $3 million in fees from Burisma.
- "And simply fraudulent are news reports insisting that [Joe] Biden wasn't influenced by his son's presence on the Burisma board, because it's impossible to know," writes Holman Jenkins at the Wall Street Journal. "Mr. Biden, instead of insisting that Ukraine's chief prosecutor be fired, might have insisted he prove his bona fides by reopening his dormant Burisma investigation. We just can't know."
- But another former Ukrainian prosecutor, Yuriy Lutsenko, said Friday that he didn't know of "any possible violation of Ukrainian law" by either of the Bidens, USA Today reports. Lutsenko, who wrapped up the Burisma probe in 2017, added: "Hunter Biden cannot be responsible for violations of the management of Burisma that took place two years before his arrival."
- Maybe Bill Maher nailed it in a Friday tweet that urged politicians to tell their kids to get "a real job. Not a 'consulting' job cuz your [sic] somebody's kid. It looks swampy."
(Meanwhile, Trump's envoy to Ukraine has quit