For weeks now, Donald Trump and Rudy Giuliani have been pushing the idea that there is a scandal in Ukraine that involves Joe Biden using his position as vice president to help his son, and even Ukrainian prosecutors working to boost Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election. Giuliani made a series of unsubstantiated statements that were dutifully repeated by The New York Times … and almost instantly debunked by Bloomberg, which did something the Times didn’t seem to consider: follow up and see if there was anything to the story Giuliani was selling.
Giuliani made a personal visit to an outgoing prosecutor, tried to convince him to play ball, and even called Trump directly while in the prosecutor’s office so that Trump could explain how excited he was about the “investigation” into Biden. The prosecutor even went so far as to add some new false claims, asserting that Joe Biden personally took a payment to act as an agent of a Ukrainian company. Republicans have been pushing the Ukraine story hard enough that hints about it have even appeared in recent congressional testimony as the kind of story that should be getting more coverage than Trump’s 2016 Russia connections.
But discussions with the Ukrainian president had already demonstrated that it was all a lie. Not only was there no investigation of Joe Biden, or his son Hunter, or the company Hunter worked for, or anyone who owned part of that company, but previous investigations had already cleared all of the above. The prosecutor was lying about the payment to Biden. Giuliani was lying about investigations. And The New York Times was simply … doing what they do when it comes to crap spoon-fed to them by Rudy. Giuliani, who had claimed he was making a visit to Ukraine to talk with the new prez, backed off that claim as it became clear his attempt to strong arm the country into providing Trump with 2020 fodder simply wasn’t working.
Now Bloomberg has followed up with their own visit to Ukraine and a meeting with the relevant officials. And what the prosecutor general had to say is that there is no evidence of any wrongdoing by either Biden.
In 2002, Mykola Zlochevsky and a partner founded a gas production and storage company.
From 2010 to 2012, Zlochevsky served as natural resources minister under Viktor Yanukovych—the pro-Russian Ukrainian president who was helped into office by Paul Manafort. Zlochevsky resigned his position in 2012.
In 2013, Zlochevsky sold Burisma’s gas storage business to Yanukovych associate Serhiy Kurchenko, the owner of a number of gas companies.
Yanukovych was forced from the country in 2014 and is currently in exile in Russia. Following his departure, Ukraine conducted a number of investigations into potential corruption. They created a Specialized Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office that followed up on all members of Yanukovych’s administration, including Zlochevsky.
Following the 2014 Maidan revolution, Zlochevsky sought to build bridges with the West. Hunter Biden was offered a seat on the company’s board. Biden was one of several prominent Americans or Western Europeans added to the board as Burisma was seeking to raise its profile.
Soon after, the sale of the gas storage business became the subject of a probe by the U.K.’s Serious Fraud Office, which suspected the sale was part of a money-laundering scheme. They asked the new Ukraine prosecutor general, Viktor Shokin, to assist in that investigation. Shokin began a probe into Bursima … then stopped.
At the end of the year, Zlochevsky left Ukraine ahead of claims that he had enriched himself while acting as a minister (this investigation was separate from the investigation into the gas storage sale). It eventually ended with no finding against Zlochevsky, and he returned to Ukraine.
By 2015, the U.K. became frustrated with prosecutor Shokin. He was not investigating Zlochevsky, or Burisma, or Kurchenko. They believed that he was not just stalling, but actively thwarting their investigation. They expressed their displeasure to both the Ukraine government and the U.S. government.
In 2016, Biden paid a visit to Ukraine and threatened put a hold on up to $1 billion in U.S. loans if Ukraine did not address issues of rampant corruption. Biden specifically mentioned Shokin and his failure to cooperate with U.K. investigators. The International Monetary Fund also threatened to withhold funds unless Shokin cooperated in investigations.
A few weeks later, Shokin resigned his office ahead of new elections after the Ukrainian parliament voted to censure him. A new prosecutor took over following Shokin and did initiate an investigation into Burisma. He found some tax violations, which the company settled by the end of 2016.
In 2017, the last of the Specialized Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office investigations involving Zlochevsky was closed after finding no wrongdoing.
In 2018, new accusations were lodged that Zlochevsky had given himself oil and gas leases during his two years as minister. A district court reopened the investigation, based on recordings between Zlochevsky and the president of an oil company that suggested graft.
In April 2019, Hunter Biden completed his five-year term, and left the Burisma board.
On May 1, 2019 The New York Times ran a story sourced from Guiliani that said Shokin had been investigating Burisma, and claimed the Ukrainian prosecutor general, Yuriy Lutsenko, had reopened an investigation into Burisma in March.
On May 7, Bloomberg followed up and discovered that not only was there no new investigation into either Burisma or Zlochevsky, there had never been an open investigation by Shokin, as Giuliani claimed.
On the same day, U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch was abruptly recalled, after both Trump and Giuliani indicated she wasn’t sufficiently loyal to Trump and Donald Trump Jr. tweeted complaints about her.
On May 9, Giuliani said he was going back to Ukraine to pressure the recently elected president to investigate the Bidens. “There’s nothing illegal about it,” Giulani said. “Somebody could say it’s improper. And this isn’t foreign policy—I’m asking them to do an investigation that they’re doing already and that other people are telling them to stop. And I’m going to give them reasons why they shouldn’t stop it because that information will be very, very helpful to my client, and may turn out to be helpful to my government.”
In another interview that same day, Giuliani said, “We’re not meddling in an election, we’re meddling in an investigation, which we have a right to do.”
On May 11, Giuliani announced that he was canceling his trip to Ukraine. Giuliani blamed “spin” from Democrats, but incoming president Volodymyr Zelensky reportedly was not interested in meeting.
On May 13, Giuliani went on Fox to claim that Hunter Biden “took millions of dollars out of the Ukraine and over a billion dollars out of China while Joe Biden is vice president,” and that it is a case “crying out to be investigated.”
On May 16, Bloomberg reported on a their own visit to Ukraine in which prosecutor Lutsenko admitted he had “no evidence of wrongdoing by U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden or his son,” and that there was no open investigation of Burisma.