Trump is criticized for a July 25 phone call, when he asked the president of Ukraine for help investigating what Biden did as vice president to get a prosecutor there fired. At the time, Biden’s son Hunter was on the payroll of a corrupt Ukrainian energy company, Burisma, which was targeted by authorities.
Democrats claim it was wrong to ask for the investigation; Trump’s defense lawyers say there was every reason to ask. The evidence backs up Team Trump.
It’s not just the $1 million a year Burisma paid Hunter, though he had no energy or Ukraine expertise. That’s what the defense team focused on, but it’s small potatoes.
The question is what did Burisma get in return? The Obama administration forked over $53 million in US taxpayer money between 2014 and 2016 to assist the Ukraine energy industry. The public should know how much Burisma and its related ventures may have gotten.
Biden should also have to answer for the $20 million in taxpayer-funded loans that went to his Delaware pal John Hynansky in 2012 to launch a luxury car dealership in Ukraine selling Porsches, Land Rovers and other high-ticket vehicles, none made in the United States.
Hynansky had made large donations to Biden’s campaigns. In 2015 he would loan $500,000 to Biden’s brother James, who was behind on mortgage payments and owed over $590,000 in back taxes.
Democrats and media allies are adamant that Joe Biden’s Ukraine dealings are irrelevant to Trump’s impeachment. Not so. If Biden used taxpayer money as his personal piggy bank to help his son and his car-dealer pal.
On that July 25 call, Trump did the right thing asking about Burisma, especially when $391 million more in taxpayer-funded aid to Ukraine was about to go out the door.
The chronology of the Bidens’ transactions raises serious questions:
- April 15, 2014: Burisma sends Hunter’s business partner, Devon Archer, $112,000.
- April 16, 2014: Archer visits Vice President Biden at the White House.
- April 21, 2014: The veep arrives in Ukraine bearing millions in aid for the Ukraine energy industry.
- May 12, 2014: Hunter Biden joins Burisma’s board.
- February, 2015: Ukrainian authorities seize property of Burisma’s CEO and go after unpaid taxes.
- March, 2016: Biden demands that Ukraine’s top prosecutor, Victor Shokin, be fired and threatens to hold up $1 billion in US loan guarantees.
Biden even bragged about telling the Ukrainians, “If the prosecutor is not fired, you’re not getting the money.” That’s the kind of quid pro quo Trump is accused of — only Biden did actually say it, and it’s on tape.
The Biden campaign claims the vice president demanded Shokin’s dismissal for being soft on corruption, and the media gladly parrot that claim. It defies common sense.
Though accounts vary about how aggressively Shokin investigated Burisma, Shokin himself is clear. In an e-mail to The Washington Post, he blamed Vice President Biden for getting him axed, saying Biden’s “motives” were “the activities of Hunter Biden, and the investigators on his tail.”
US Aid for International Development data show that the Obama administration sent $1.28 billion in aid to Ukraine in 2014-’16. Biden, the administration point person for Ukraine, should be held accountable for how the money was used.
Peter Schweizer’s new book “Profiles in Corruption” documents how Biden’s family and friends leveraged his position to cash in, with deals in China, Iraq, Kazakhstan and Latin America. Joe Biden’s suspect dealings in Ukraine were not out of character. The Biden motto appears to be that a family that “takes” together stays together.
Democrats insist claims of Biden wrongdoing are “discredited” and “without evidence.” That doesn’t pass the smell test.
Americans have seen the transcripts of Trump’s calls with the Ukrainians. Let’s see Biden’s call records with the Ukrainians.
If the senators decide to call witnesses, Joe Biden should be the first.
Betsy McCaughey is a former lieutenant governor of New York.