Known for being one of the most gaffe-prone politicians, the former Vice President made one of his most damaging to date while speaking to a group of foreign policy specialists last year. The Hill’s John Solomon reported that Biden bragged “about the time as vice president that he strong-armed Ukraine into firing its top prosecutor.”
In his own words, with video cameras rolling, Biden described how he threatened Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko in March 2016 that the Obama administration would pull $1 billion in U.S. loan guarantees, sending the former Soviet republic toward insolvency, if it didn’t immediately fire Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin.“I said, ‘You’re not getting the billion.’ I’m going to be leaving here in, I think it was about six hours. I looked at them and said: ‘I’m leaving in six hours. If the prosecutor is not fired, you’re not getting the money,’” Biden recalled telling Poroshenko.
“Well, son of a bitch, he got fired. And they put in place someone who was solid at the time,” Biden told the Council on Foreign Relations event, insisting that President Obama was in on the threat.
It was a great story, but Biden had exaggerated. Shokin was indeed fired, however, instead of six hours, Biden had been pressuring the Ukrainian government for “several months in late 2015 and early 2016.”
According to Solomon’s contacts in Ukraine, Biden had held back one key fact. At the time Shokin was fired, he had been “leading a wide-ranging corruption probe into the natural gas firm Burisma Holdings that employed Biden’s younger son, Hunter, as a board member.” Solomon reports that:
U.S. banking records show Hunter Biden’s American-based firm, Rosemont Seneca Partners LLC, received regular transfers into one of its accounts — usually more than $166,000 a month — from Burisma from spring 2014 through fall 2015, during a period when Vice President Biden was the main U.S. official dealing with Ukraine and its tense relations with Russia.
The general prosecutor’s official file for the Burisma probe — shared with me by senior Ukrainian officials — shows prosecutors identified Hunter Biden, business partner Devon Archer and their firm, Rosemont Seneca, as potential recipients of money.
Shokin told me in written answers to questions that, before he was fired as general prosecutor, he had made “specific plans” for the investigation that “included interrogations and other crime-investigation procedures into all members of the executive board, including Hunter Biden.”
He added: “I would like to emphasize the fact that presumption of innocence is a principle in Ukraine” and that he couldn’t describe the evidence further.
Solomon has interviewed several US and Ukrainian officials to determine if it was possible that Biden was unaware of Shokin’s investigation of Burisma or his son’s role. They all said he had to know and pointed out the following:
Hunter Biden’s appointment to the board was widely reported in American media;
The U.S. Embassy in Kiev that coordinated Biden’s work in the country repeatedly and publicly discussed the general prosecutor’s case against Burisma;
Great Britain took very public action against Burisma while Joe Biden was working with that government on Ukraine issues;
Biden’s office was quoted, on the record, acknowledging Hunter Biden’s role in Burisma in a New York Times article about the general prosecutor’s Burisma case that appeared four months before Biden forced the firing of Shokin. The vice president’s office suggested in that article that Hunter Biden was a lawyer free to pursue his own private business deals.
At the time Biden became the U.S.’ “point man” on Ukraine in February 2014, President Viktor Yanukovych had sought asylum in Russia following the deadly “Orange Revolution,” and Putin had sent his forces into Crimea.
In addition, it was discussed in a 2016 book by Peter Schweitzer. He wrote that “Vice President Biden met with Archer in April 2014 right as Archer was named to the board at Burisma. A month later, Hunter Biden was named to the board, to oversee Burisma’s legal team.”
Neither Shokin’s investigation of Burisma, nor Biden’s role in firing Shokin received much media attention.
Shokin’s probe was composed of three separate cases. Solomon interviewed the current Ukraininan Prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko last week which I wrote about here. Lutsenko confirmed that after Shokin was fired, the primary case was “transferred to a different Ukrainian agency, closely aligned with the U.S. Embassy in Kiev, known as the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine (NABU).” You may recall that many Embassy officials, and their actions as well, were pro-Hillary Clinton.
It should come as no surprise that NABU closed the case. Solomon reported:
A second case involving alleged improper money transfers in London was dropped when Ukrainian officials failed to file the necessary documents by the required deadline. The general prosecutor’s office successfully secured a multimillion-dollar judgment in a tax evasion case, Lutsenko said. He did not say who was the actual defendant in that case.
As a result, the Biden family appeared to have escaped the potential for an embarrassing inquiry overseas.
Unfortunately for Biden, Lutsenko started a review of the case NABU had closed.
Lutsenko told Solomon that he “discovered members of the Board obtained funds as well as another U.S.-based legal entity, Rosemont Seneca Partners LLC, for consulting services.”
He also said he would like to show some of the evidence to US Attorney General William Barr, “particularly the vice president’s intervention.” He added, “Unfortunately, Mr. Biden had correlated and connected this aid with some of the HR (personnel) issues and changes in the prosecutor’s office.”
Solomon spoke to the lead prosecutor in Lutsenko’s office who confirmed that this portion of the Burma investigation was reopened following Biden’s speech, but explained that a separate agency has been slow in working on the case and told Solomon, “We don’t see any result from this case one year after the reopening because of some external influence.” (In last week’s post, I wrote that the US Embassy in Kiev and several agencies associated with it were in cahoots with the DNC.) The Ukrainian government is known for being especially corrupt. However, Solomon explains:
But what makes Lutsenko’s account compelling is that federal authorities in America, in an entirely different case, uncovered financial records showing just how much Hunter Biden’s and Archer’s company received from Burisma while Joe Biden acted as Obama’s point man on Ukraine.
Between April 2014 and October 2015, more than $3 million was paid out of Burisma accounts to an account linked to Biden’s and Archer’s Rosemont Seneca firm, according to the financial records placed in a federal court file in Manhattan in an unrelated case against Archer.
The bank records show that, on most months when Burisma money flowed, two wire transfers of $83,333.33 each were sent to the Rosemont Seneca–connected account on the same day. The same Rosemont Seneca–linked account typically then would pay Hunter Biden one or more payments ranging from $5,000 to $25,000 each. Prosecutors reviewed internal company documents and wanted to interview Hunter Biden and Archer about why they had received such payments, according to interviews.
Lutsenko said Ukrainian company board members legally can pay themselves for work they do if it benefits the company’s bottom line, but prosecutors never got to determine the merits of the payments to Rosemont because of the way the investigation was shut down.
Although it’s too soon to accuse Hunter Biden of financial wrongdoing, it is entirely appropriate to question both he and Devon Archer about the payments.
And it is also reasonable to ask questions of Joe Biden starting with why did he try to get Shokin fired while he was investigating Burisma?
Also, was it appropriate for your son and his firm to cash in on Ukraine while you served as point man for Ukraine policy? What work was performed for the money Hunter Biden’s firm received? Did you know about the Burisma probe? And when it was publicly announced that your son worked for Burisma, should you have recused yourself from leveraging a U.S. policy to pressure the prosecutor who very publicly pursued Burma?”
Between the “creep” factor and the questions surrounding Burisma, Biden’s candidacy may be over before he even declares it.