Hiding in Plain Sight: Biden’s Inauguration-Eve Trip to Ukraine

It is highly unusual for an outgoing vice president to travel abroad during the days before the beginning of the new administration. An examination of the National Archives reveals no foreign travel on the part of Dick Cheney between the 2008 election and the Obama-Biden inauguration, nor any foreign travel by Vice President Al Gore before the Bush-Cheney inauguration in 2001.

During the time before the inauguration, the outgoing vice president’s duty to the American people is to help the president, the president-elect, and the vice-president-elect with an orderly transition. The closer to inauguration day, the more important it becomes to handle sensitive details diligently.

This was a duty that Joe Biden decided was subordinate to his desire to travel abroad.

Three days before the Trump-Pence inauguration, Biden was halfway around the world meeting with the leaders of a foreign government. Biden’s trip not only took him away from his duties in Washington, it also consumed the attention of many senior presidential, vice-presidential, and State Department staff—for the days before, during, and after the trip—who should have been giving their undivided attention to the transition.

For Biden, the vice president’s absence from the White House during one of the most important weeks of his official responsibilities, and subjecting himself and senior White House staff to jet lag during the inauguration itself, were reasonable costs for the United States to pay in exchange for his presence in a faraway foreign country.

That country was Ukraine.

What was Biden doing in Kyiv on January 17, 2017?

He was creating an opportunity for himself to speak, unmonitored, with the bosses of a corrupt country whose natural gas company was paying his miscreant son more than $83,000 a month in phony “consulting” fees.

What Biden was doing, above all, was not talking on the phone.

Everyone now knows that a U.S. president or vice president who speaks on a “secure” phone line with a foreign leader can have his top secret conversation leaked, distorted, and, in Donald Trump’s case involving another president of Ukraine, made into a basis for a bogus impeachment process.

Whatever Biden had to say in Kyiv, he knew he did not want it overheard by the many bureaucratic busybodies—the Munchkins, we used to call them in the Reagan State Department—who manage to listen in or receive transcripts of these highly sensitive communications. Only by getting face to face in Kyiv with his Ukrainian contacts could Biden be certain of his ability to conduct such communications with them without anyone else, in our government or theirs, knowing about it.

One might recall the hysteria that has broken out on occasions at multilateral conferences when President Trump was reported to be in conversation alone with Russian President Vladimir Putin and an interpreter—no bureaucrats allowed.

Our mainstream media, the left-wing leviathan, and their well-compensated RINO manservants such as Michael Gerson and Peter Wehner, have acquired a newfound taste for the methods of the late Senator Joseph McCarthy. They are shocked—shocked!—when President Trump speaks alone and off the telephone with a foreign leader who is known not to have American interests at heart.

Normal people know that every president should do this. It’s called statecraft. When Trump does it, the press and the RINOs call it treason, or corruption, or both.

So by these standards, what is one to think of Biden’s strange trip to Ukraine on the eve of the Trump inauguration?

The cover story was that Biden was in Kyiv to give a speech exhorting Ukrainians to repent and renounce their centuries-old habit of public corruption. Think about it: A man who in three days would have no power gave a public speech demanding that his corrupt hosts—people who only fear overwhelming power—give up their addiction to corruption. Preposterous.

Biden delivered his fire-and-brimstone sermon in Kyiv, but why? The gesture made as much sense as Biden going to Harvey Weinstein’s front lawn with a bullhorn urging the Democratic Party megadonor to forsake lechery, put on sackcloth and ashes, and embrace celibacy for the glory of the Kingdom of God.

The truth is that we will never know the identities of every person with whom Biden spoke when he was in Kyiv in January 2017. No one apart from the direct interlocutors—not even the Vindman twins—will ever know everything that Biden and his Ukrainian friends had to say to one another 72 hours before the Trump inauguration.

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About Joseph Duggan

Joseph Duggan is the author of Khashoggi, Dynasties, and Double Standards (Encounter). He is a former White House speechwriter for President George H. W. Bush and a former Reagan State Department appointee, as well as an international business and public affairs consultant. He lives in St. Louis.

Photo: Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images

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