It’s been barely a week since former Vice President Joe Biden jumped in the 2020 presidential race, but the candidate is already facing intense scrutiny over his sketchy ties to Ukraine. If the growing scandal has staying power, it could torpedo his campaign, and that is leading some to compare Biden’s Ukraine problem to the myriad of corruption scandals that helped sink Hillary Clinton’s campaign in 2016.
The New York Times published a bombshell piece Wednesday detailing “conflict of interest questions” regarding the Ukraine that they say are being promoted by President Donald Trump and his allies.
The Times’ Ken Vogel and Iuliia Mendel wrote:
It was a foreign policy role Joseph R. Biden Jr. enthusiastically embraced during his vice presidency: browbeating Ukraine’s notoriously corrupt government to clean up its act. And one of his most memorable performances came on a trip to Kiev in March 2016, when he threatened to withhold $1 billion in United States loan guarantees if Ukraine’s leaders did not dismiss the country’s top prosecutor, who had been accused of turning a blind eye to corruption in his own office and among the political elite.
The pressure campaign worked. The prosecutor general, long a target of criticism from other Western nations and international lenders, was soon voted out by the Ukrainian Parliament. Among those who had a stake in the outcome was Hunter Biden, Mr. Biden’s younger son, who at the time was on the board of an energy company owned by a Ukrainian oligarch who had been in the sights of the fired prosecutor general.
Hunter Biden was a Yale-educated lawyer who had served on the boards of Amtrak and a number of nonprofit organizations and think tanks, but lacked any experience in Ukraine and just months earlier had been discharged from the Navy Reserve after testing positive for cocaine. He would be paid as much as $50,000 per month in some months for his work for the company, Burisma Holdings.
Hunter Biden, Mr. Biden’s son, served on the board of Burisma Holdings, a Ukrainian energy company under investigation.
The New York Times’ report apparently corroborates what Government Accountability Institute president Peter Schweizer wrote in his book, “Secret Empires: How the American Political Class Hides Corruption and Enriches Family and Friends” about the Biden family’s corrupt ties to Ukraine.
In response to the report, former New York City Mayor and Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani took to Twitter and called for an investigation.
https://t.co/FNVj16Hf10 via @nytimes. Biden conflicts are too apparent to be ignored and should be investigated quickly and expeditiously. But the more important question is how deep and how high did the alleged Ukraine conspiracy go?
— Rudy W. Giuliani (@RudyGiuliani) May 2, 2019
Instead of addressing what was in the report, former Obama adviser Dan Pfeiffer suggested that the entire report was based on Schweizer’s “opposition research funded by conservative interests.”
“It’s happening all over again,” he said, likely referring to Schweizer’s book “Clinton Cash” which haunted Hillary Clinton throughout the 2016 campaign.
It's happening all over again
Peter Schweizer does oppo research funded by conservative interests –> NYT credulously writes it up –> Trump and his allies bully the DOJ into investigating –> Trump claims his opponent is corrupt https://t.co/g0eiFtBhEC
— Dan Pfeiffer (@danpfeiffer) May 2, 2019
Pfeiffer’s tweet was retweeted by former Obama speech writer Jon Favreau and former NSC spokesman (and Obama Campaign van driver) Tommy Vietor.
Schweizer straightened Pfeiffer out on Twitter, explaining that he does “investigative journalism,” not “oppo research.” Much of the material is from his book, he noted, also hits Repubs,” what’s more, he did his own reporting.
1. it's called investigative journalism not oppo research. What facts to do dispute?
2. This is from https://t.co/waDlI5akhm, which also hits Repubs
3. I had no contact with @kenvogel on this story–get your facts straight. He did his own reporting
4. Next time @ me ;) https://t.co/KHTSBnSHq4
— Peter Schweizer (@peterschweizer) May 2, 2019
“When the book came out and even today with the New York Times confirming my reporting, what the left is basically doing is attacking me personally and now attacking the New York Times.” Schweitzer told Fox News’ Laura Ingraham Thursday night. “They’re not disputing any of the facts.”
Schweizer laid out the damaging facts: “Hunter Biden–Joe Biden’s son–got on the payroll of a very corrupt Ukrainian energy company called Burisma in the Spring of 2014 where he was paid about $50,000 a month to do quote-unquote regulatory compliance for this company. He now admits to the New York Times that that’s not exactly what he did. He doesn’t describe any work that he did, and the problem, of course, is Hunter Biden had no background in Ukraine, no background in energy,” Schweizer explained.
“What he did have was a father who was Vice President of the United States, who was responsible for all aid flow of Western dollars going to Ukraine and Joe Biden made decisions about when to look the other way when money disappeared,” he added.
Schweizer went on to say that Biden “cashed in” on China, as well, while he was vice president and that his critics haven’t refuted any of these facts. Instead, they’ve only attacked him and now the New York Times.
(Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)