Last summer President Trump made a telephone call in which he foolishly asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate the activities of former vice president Joe Biden and his son Hunter during their time in his country.
When word of this call came to light, thanks to the patriotic fervor of an as yet unnamed “whistleblower,” Trump claimed he withheld $250 million in military aid to Ukraine to pressure Zelensky into rooting out corruption in his country. Trump said he wanted to be sure the money would not find its way into the pockets of officials in Ukraine, acknowledged as one of the most corrupt nations in the world.
Democrats, “liberals,” the news media, and other Leftists cried in orchestrated unison, “Liar, liar, pants on fire! You withheld the funds to pressure him into investigating Mr. Clean, Uncle Joe, because you feared him in the upcoming election.”
Initially Trump was accused of seeking a quid pro quo – getting something in exchange for giving something, in this case, an investigation of the Bidens in exchange for $250 million in military aid. But then Democrats, in concert with their allies in the news media, changed the charge to bribery, probably because there was a video of Biden boasting about blackmailing the Ukrainian president into doing him a favor. In “liberal” world, if Biden blackmails the president of Ukraine, it’s statesmanship, but if Trump asks about Biden’s quid pro quo, it’s an impeachable offense.
On Jan. 23, 2018, Biden appeared on a panel of the Council on Foreign Relations. He was speaking about his time in Ukraine, where Barack Obama had sent him to serve as his point man. This is what Biden said while holding forth on the panel. Forgive the liberal use of ellipses. Joe never was terribly articulate. The verbatim transcript of his talk before the panel was all over the place with numerous starts, stops, and repetition.
“I’m desperately concerned about the backsliding on the part of Kiev in terms of corruption. . . . And so I got to Ukraine. And I remember . . . convincing our team . . . that we should be providing loan guarantees. And I went over, I guess, the 12th, 13th time to Kiev. And I was supposed to announce that there was another billion-dollar guarantee. . . . I had gotten a commitment from [at the time President Petro] Poroshenko and from [at the time Prime Minister Arseniy] Yatsenyuk that they would take action against the state prosecutor [Viktor Shokin]. And they didn’t.
“. . . they said they had – they were walking out to a press conference. I said, ‘Nah . . . we’re not going to give you the billion dollars.’ They said, ‘You have no authority. You’re not the president.’ . . . I said, ‘Call him.’ [laughter] I said, ‘I’m telling you, you’re not getting the billion dollars. . . . I’m leaving in six hours. If the prosecutor is not fired, you’re not getting the money.’
“Well, son of a bitch [Joe laughs], he got fired.”
And Ukraine got its billion dollars. And Hunter kept his job.
Democrats, “liberals,” the news media, and other Leftists shrugged and said, in effect, “So what? Joe was just being a good steward of American aid. Good for Joe. We’ll just ignore this story. It will go away, and it will be like it never happened.”
Joe and his apologists claimed he blackmailed the Ukrainian leaders in a noble effort to rid the country of a corrupt official; that he had the backing of Obama; and that some undefined entity called “the international community” wanted Shokin fired. But these rationales just don’t compute. Ukraine runs on corruption at the highest levels. No one disputes this, even the Left accepts this as an immutable problem in dealing with Ukraine. Joe admitted as much. Yet Joe could find only one minor official to single out for his one-man crusade to safeguard America’s tax dollars.
Why would Joe fasten on one man; one relatively insignificant official in a country rife with corruption at levels way higher than a mere prosecutor? What does compute is this: Shokin was investigating Hunter’s employer, Burisma, the state-owned gas company. Hunter – a man who doesn’t know squat about any kind of energy company – was being paid $50,000 a month. Perhaps Shokin thought it odd, even suspicious, that Burisma was paying this clueless foreigner so lavishly when the household income per capita in Ukraine was, in U.S. dollars, $1,694 (2018 figures) annually. And perhaps Shokin was getting dangerously close to the truth: The job was a bribe to curry favor with the vice president of the United States through his son. In other words, quid pro quo.
Why would Joe choose not to mention his son’s connection to Burisma, the object of Shokin’s investigation, when bragging before the Council on Foreign Relations? Could it possibly be that Joe “abused the power of his office for personal gain”? Was he trying to protect his son’s incredibly lucrative “job”? What is crystal clear and beyond dispute is that American taxpayers were on the hook for $1 billion to get one trifling Ukrainian official fired; one man who might have become a Ukrainian whistleblower if Biden hadn’t gotten him fired.
Did Biden abuse the power of his office for personal gain? Possibly/probably. Did he meddle in the internal affairs of a foreign nation, much the way Russian strong man Vladimir Putin inserts himself into our elections? Absolutely. He even had the arrogance to brag about it before the Council on Foreign Relations.
This is not a case of, “Well if they can get away with it, we should be able to get away with it, too.” No. It’s just an example – one more example – in a growing list of examples of the duplicity and hypocrisy on the Left; of the irresponsible Left-leaning news media.