For weeks, Rudy Giuliani and Donald Trump, with a strategic assist from The New York Times, have been pushing a “scandal” that involves Joe Biden’s son Hunter and a company connected to Ukraine. Giuliani has been drumming this would-be scandal hard enough that Republicans have started inserting comments about into their statements in Congress. And Giuliani has been so excited about this opportunity to kneecap Biden that he’s been pushing the government of Ukraine to expand its investigation into it and excitedly phoning Trump to pass along his latest discoveries. But as Bloomberg reports, there’s a little thing called time that is screwing up Giuliani’s scandal claims.
For several years, Hunter Biden was on the board of a company called Burisma Holdings. The biggest investor in that company was Ukrainian businessman Mykola Zlochevsky, and at one point Zlochevsky was under investigation by the top Ukrainian prosecutor. In 2016, Joe Biden paid a visit to Ukraine and, along with other demands, complained that the prosecutor was corrupt and needed to go. Those are all facts.
For Giuliani, this is clear evidence that Joe Biden wanted the prosecutor canned so he would stop investigating the meal ticket of Hunter Biden. And for the Times, this was enough to run a story highlighting Joe Biden’s visit to Ukraine and indicating that Hunter Biden “had a stake” in the prosecutor being dismissed.
Only … there’s that’s time thing. Not only did Biden’s pressure concerning the prosecutor not come until after U.S. and Ukraine allies had made the same demand based on broad evidence that the prosecutor was corrupt; Biden didn’t visit Ukraine until a year after that same prosecutor had “shelved” the investigation into Zlochevsky and Burisma. According to Ukrainian officials, there was no investigation to stop and “no pressure from anyone in the U.S.” to close the case. In fact, it now seems very much that the prosecutor was protecting Burisma even though both the U.S. and the U.K. wanted an investigation. Biden was demanding the removal of the one man standing in the way of that investigation.
Biden’s visit had nothing to do with benefiting his son or with personal politics. On the other hand, Trump and Giuliani are explicitly manipulating Ukraine in an effort to practice the politics of self-destruction.
Biden’s demand that Ukraine crack down on corruption or face the possibility of losing U.S. foreign aid came at a point when corruption in the former Soviet state was rampant and when the U.K. was already demanding removal of the same prosecutor. The ouster of the prosecutor was also not something Biden came up with on the spot. In making the demand, Biden was essentially reading a document that had already been drafted by officials at the State Department who had been concerned about the prosecutor for months, explicitly because he was not following up on an investigation into Zlochevsky that had been requested by the U.K.
So the truth is that Biden was asking for the removal of a corrupt official who was not investigating his son, not investigating the company with which his son was connected, and not investigating the man who owned much of that company. If anything, Biden was demanding that the guy who was protecting Burisma be removed. The Bidens, father and son, had nothing to gain from dismissing the prosecutor. Hunter Biden did not have a “stake” in the outcome. These statements from Ukraine are consistent with earlier statements from both Hunter Biden and Joe Biden.
And in fact, the scandal as presented by Giuliani has things exactly backwards. The U.S. threats against the prosecutor were explicitly because he was not assisting the U.K. in an investigation of Zlochevsky. There is no way that the prosecutor’s dismissal could have helped either Biden.
But now Ukraine’s prosecutor general is holding direct meetings with Giuliani to discuss the Burisma investigation. Those meetings were so exciting to Giuliani that he called Trump directly from the prosecutor’s office to let him in on the juicy things he was finding. But despite what it said in the Times article, Bloomberg reports that Ukraine has not opened a new investigation into either Burisma or Zlochevsky.
That they have the whole thing backwards and inside out hasn’t stopped Giuliani from crowing like he found a worm or prevented Trump from calling the Ukraine story “a major scandal, major problem” for Biden.
Only it’s not.