With the release Wednesday of Senator Ron Johnson’s (R-Wis.) long-awaited investigation into the Biden family’s corrupt, possibly criminal, ties to Ukraine and other countries, one thing is clear: Had the information in the report been made public a year ago, it’s nearly impossible to believe Joe Biden would still be the Democratic nominee for president.
The fall of 2019 seems like a lifetime ago, but it’s worth revisiting to give context to this bombshell report.
As the Democratic race for president took shape last year, the media started asking uncomfortable questions. “Will Hunter Biden Jeopardize His Father’s Campaign?” read the headline of a nearly 11,000-word exposé in the July 2019 issue of The New Yorker.
Other news organizations followed suit. Senate Republicans finally were zoning in on the shady business dealings of their former colleague’s son.
As damaging, potential campaign-ending coverage continued for months, Team Biden threatened social media platforms and journalists for spreading “disinformation” about Hunter Biden.
In October 2019, Biden, in a clip recirculated this week, lashed out at reporters for asking about Hunter Biden’s multimillion dollar overseas contracts. Even his Democratic opponents were piling on. Things were going downhill for the one candidate most establishment Democrats thought had the best chance to beat Donald Trump in 2020.
Well, you know the rest of the story. House Democrats successfully changed the subject by manufacturing an impeachment case against President Trump based on the account of a partisan “whistleblower” connected to Biden. The country, once again, was thrown into political chaos.
The Democrats’ gambit worked. They knew Trump would not be convicted by a Republican Senate, but Hunter Biden’s name quickly vanished from the headlines. America’s complicit news media cowered to the mob-like threats of Team Biden and have since kept their mouths shut. Hunter Biden, unscathed, even made a cameo appearance at the virtual Democratic National Convention.
Trump’s impeachment served two purposes: to bury one more scandal under the self-proclaimed “scandal free” Obama Administration and to save Joe Biden’s candidacy. It was straight-up interference with the 2020 election because without the impeachment diversions, it’s very likely that either Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren, not Biden, would be on the November ballot right now.
The Wolf of Washington
The joint report released this week from the Homeland Security Committee and Senate Finance Committee reads like a Hollywood screenplay. Hunter Biden is the Beltway’s version of Jordan Belfort, the “Wolf of Washington” so to speak, but without the hard-knock start and all the hard work.
The youngest Biden is a well-known womanizer (including sleeping with his late brother’s widow) with a history of drug abuse and bad decisions. With Secret Service protection and access to Air Force Two, Hunter swaggered around the globe during the Obama-Biden presidency, including six trips to China.
A few months after the Navy discharged him for cocaine use, Hunter Biden was hired in May 2014 by Burisma, Ukraine’s largest energy producer owned by Mykola Zlochevsky, who was under investigation in the United States and UK for money laundering among other crimes.
“[O]ver the course of the next several years, Hunter Biden and [business partner] Devon Archer were paid millions of dollars from a corrupt Ukrainian oligarch for their participation on the board,” according to Johnson’s 87-page report. “In addition to the over $4 million paid by Burisma for Hunter Biden’s and Archer’s board memberships, Hunter Biden, his family and Archer received millions of dollars from foreign nationals with questionable backgrounds. The Treasury records . . . show potential criminal activity relating to transactions among and between Hunter Biden, his family, and his associates with Ukrainian, Russian, Kazakh and Chinese nationals.”
Further, what jumps out in the report is that one of impeachment’s star witnesses, instead of informing the American people about the scandal when given the chance, helped turn the focus on the president.
George Kent, the bow-tied deputy assistant secretary of state, publicly testified before the House Intelligence Committee last fall as part of Rep. Adam Schiff’s (D-Calif.) impeachment inquiry. The longtime diplomat became a media darling for his role in bolstering the Democrats’ case against the president.
During the committee’s open hearing, Kent danced around questions about Burisma’s corruption. “Its business reputation is mixed,” Kent cautiously told Republican counsel on November 13, 2019.
Kent repeatedly tried to avoid directly condemning Hunter Biden’s appointment to Burisma’s board. “I believe that companies build their boards with a variety of reasons,” Kent insisted. Kent told the committee he notified the vice president’s staff in early 2015 that Hunter Biden’s status as a board member “could create the possibility of a perception of conflict of interest.”
But his July 2020 closed-door testimony was more forthcoming. Kent elaborated on what he told the vice president’s office. The then-deputy chief at the U.S. embassy in Kyiv, Kent contacted the vice president’s office with an unvarnished plea.
“I thought someone needed to talk to Hunter Biden, and he should [step] down from the board of Burisma,” Kent told the committees. He admitted that he “never heard back from the vice president’s office.”
When that request went nowhere, a year later, Kent emailed senior State Department officials. “The presence of Hunter Biden on the Burisma board was very awkward for all U.S. officials pushing an anti-corruption agenda in Ukraine,” he wrote in a September 2016 email. Kent’s concerns, according to the report, “remained unaddressed.”
Other emails obtained by the committees show Kent’s view of Burisma’s reputation was far from “mixed,” as Kent said publicly. “Zlochevsky was viewed as corrupt, not just in Ukraine but by the USG,” he wrote in the September 2016 email to John Kerry’s State Department. (Kerry’s stepson was a longtime business partner of Hunter.)
Burisma’s owner was a “poster child for corrupt behavior,” he told the committees. Associating or promoting assistance projects with Burisma posed a “moral hazard,” Kent said in another August 2016 email.
That’s quite a contrast to the vague assessment Kent gave the American people last November.
In his November 2019 public testimony, Kent said there was a “strong assumption” that Zlochevsky bribed Ukraine’s prosecutor general in late 2014 to drop the case against Burisma. (Hunter Biden was on the board by then.) “We thought Zlochevsky had stolen money, we thought a prosecutor had taken a bribe to shut the case and those were our main concerns.”
But he told Republicans a slightly different story. Kent confronted the Ukrainian prosecutor’s office about the bribe in early 2015 and demanded to know “who had paid the bribe and how much it was. I also demanded that the case against Zlochevsky be resumed.”
The $7 million bribe was referred to the FBI by a Justice Department official. “At this time, the committees are seeking an explanation from the FBI about what, if any, actions they took after receiving this information from the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv.”
Imagine if Kent had given the same sort of testimony to the American people 10 months ago. What if he had confirmed Burisma’s corruption, the details of the bribery scheme, and the referral to James Comey’s FBI? What if he had told Congress that his pleas were ignored by the vice president’s office and the State Department despite repeated attempts? That the son of the leading Democratic candidate for president was profiting from a deeply corrupt Urkainian oligarch but top Obama Administration officials turned a blind eye at the time?
What if all the damning information in Johnson’s report was revealed in September 2019 and not in September 2020?
The media would have been forced to report it. Impeachment would have been exposed as the diversion that it was. Joe Biden would not have been permitted to continue avoiding all the questions he’s successfully avoided since impeachment. Hunter Biden might be facing serious charges.
And it’s very possible someone else would be sitting atop the Democratic ticket right now.