Donald Trump withheld military aid from a United States ally in order to force that ally into providing him with ammunition he could use against a potential opponent in the 2020 election. That’s the story. Full stop. There are no circumstances in which what Trump has done are in any sense acceptable. The only option is for Congress to immediately begin impeachment. Not an inquiry into whether there should be an inquiry. Impeachment.
But astoundingly, there are members of the media who are already rushing to ignore Trump’s gross misuse of power, vault past an astounding measure of “ends justify the means,” and go straight into how this is good for Trump. And bad for Joe Biden.
New York Times reporter Ken Vogel was astoundingly willing to ignore all the forest in the search for a shrub in an MSNBC interview where he declared that Hunter Biden being on the board of oil and gas company Burisma was “a significant liability for Joe Biden.” And to make it clear that the Times was going to unpack every keyboard that’s been gathering dust since “but her emails,” Vogel added, “There is a story here. We’re going to continue to, sort of, pull that back.”
On Saturday morning, Politico joined in the Great Justification by declaring that this scandal “could backfire on Biden.” They go on to find a pollster that says that this story puts Biden “on the ropes.” and that this whole story is more “perilous” for Biden than for Trump.
At the heart of Politico’s story—is a timeline of events in Ukraine. That timeline also matches one that was featured in the New York Times back in May, based on information from Rudy Giuliani. That timeline makes one claim that is absolutely fundamental to the story. The claim is that when Joe Biden went to Ukraine in 2016 and asked the government there to fire its prosecutor general, that prosecutor had an “open probe” into the company that was paying Hunter Biden. In other words, that Biden’s actions protected his son.
That’s not only not true, it’s the opposite of what happened.
Here is how Politico phrased it in their story. “Joe Biden successfully pressured the Ukrainian government to remove its prosecutor general, Viktor Shokin, who was unpopular with Western leaders, threatening to withhold loan guarantees if it did not. At the time, Shokin’s office had open probes of Burisma and Zlochevsky. Shokin’s successor closed the investigations, but then reopened an investigation of Burisma last year.”
Almost nothing in that statement is correct.
In May, when The New York Times began publishing Giuliani’s accusations in connection with Biden, Bloomberg did something that apparently no one else bothered to do—they sent reporters to Ukraine to look into the facts. Those reporters located both documents and officials connected with the case, and this is what they learned—there was no case open against Burisma. It wasn’t part of an “open probe” by anyone. That case was “shelved in 2014.”
In fact, it was the refusal of Shokin to reopen any investigation that generated calls for his ouster by officials in the U.K. While Politico waves off concerns about the prosecutor by saying Shokin was “unpopular with Western leaders,” he wasn’t unpopular—he was notoriously corrupt. And it was Shokin’s failure to cooperate with U.K. prosecutors in looking into Burisma that caused the U.K. to ask Biden to seek the Ukrainian prosecutor’s removal.
After Shokin was gone—several months and another administration change after Biden’s request—his replacement did in fact open a new investigation into Burisma. And eventually closed it, after finding nothing. But Biden’s request didn’t protect the company where Hunter Biden worked from some active investigation by a hard-charging prosecutor. It removed a corrupt prosecutor who had already shelved the case and brought in someone new who actually conducted an investigation.
Maybe Politico and The New York Times are convinced that every story about Trump, no matter how enormous, can be ignored, and that every papercut caused by a Democrat is cause for a major expose. But the least they could do when they’re shouldering aside extortion and abuse of power, is not to get the damn story upside down.
It appears that Trump didn’t need to go to Ukraine to generate false accusations against Joe Biden at all. There are plenty of people in the U.S. willing to do it for him.