Joe Biden certainly didn’t act, as some mainstream media outlets have claimed, as if the Ukrainian prosecutor’s investigation of Burisma, the company that hired Hunter Biden, was dormant and of no consequence. From Moon of Alabama at moonofalabama.org:
There are some serious questions around the Biden family involvement in the Ukraine that the media have not picked up on.
The first regards the ownership of the company which hired Joe Biden’s son Hunter for an exorbitant amount of money while Joe Biden ran the U.S. Ukraine policy.
The second question is about the firing of the Viktor Shokin, the former Prosecutor General of the Ukraine. Trump accuses Joe Biden of having intervened in favor of his son’s sponsor to get Shokin fired. The timeline below supports that assertion.
At Naked Capitalism Yves Smith reposted a 2014 piece by Richard Smith who at that time looked into the Hunter Biden appointment to the board of Burisma, a Ukrainian gas producer. Yves writes:
Richard [Smith] did a deep dive into the dodgy appointment of Hunter Biden and then Secretary of State John Kerry’s long-standing bundler, Devon Archer, to the board of Burisma Holdings. Richard quickly got past the noteworthy fact that Biden Jr. was being paid quite a lot for no relevant expertise and no investment in the company…so what was he being paid for, exactly? Oh, and Richard also describes how Hunter’s and his uncle James Biden’s past financial rides were with con artists.But the real puzzlement is that from everything that can be inferred, Burisma is either tiny or just a shell company. So who is behind these big director payoffs payouts? Richard found some bread crumbs that pointed to Burisma being owned by Privat Group, a conglomerate controlled by the Ukrainian oligarch Ihor Kolomoisky.
Burisma is officially owned by Mykola Zlochevsky, a former Ukrainian Minister for Natural Resources who (illegitimately) issued oil and gas licenses to companies he himself owned. But Richard’s trail shows that Burisma was sold or raided with the help of various shell companies and that the real owner is probably the Nazi loving criminal oligarch Igor Kolomoisky.
The German state funded DW notes an additional candidate:
In late 2013, [Zlochevsky] denied that he owned Burisma, and an employee in his office reported that he sold the company – but no evidence of this has come to light yet. Two oligarchs, Ihor Kolomojski and Viktor Pinchuk, have been named as the possible new owners.
DW could not reach Kolomojski for comment about Burisma. Pinchuk refused to comment, but is said to have a good relationship with the Democratic Party in the US, and is also believed to have been a long time friend of former Polish President Kwasniewski.
Kasniewski was, like Hunter Biden and his friend Devon Archer, appointed to the board of Burisma.
Kolomoisky is the sponsor of the current President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky.
No one seems to know who really owns the company. Whoever does has hidden behind a bunch of shell companies in Cyprus and Britain. DW says that Zlochevsky denied in 2013 to be the owner but several Bursima press releases name and quote Mykola Zlochevsky as owner and president of the Burisma Group. Is he now just a front man for a bigger oligarch?
Joe Biden himself bragged that he blackmailed the Ukrainian government to get the “corrupt” prosecutor general Viktor Shokin fired:
And I went over, I guess, the 12th, 13th time to Kiev. And I was supposed to announce that there was another billion-dollar loan guarantee. And I had gotten a commitment from Poroshenko and from Yatsenyuk that they would take action against the state prosecutor. And they didn’t.So they said they had—they were walking out to a press conference. I said, nah, I’m not going to—or, we’re not going to give you the billion dollars. They said, you have no authority. You’re not the president. The president said—I said, call him. (Laughter.) I said, I’m telling you, you’re not getting the billion dollars. I said, you’re not getting the billion. I’m going to be leaving here in, I think it was about six hours. I looked at them and said: I’m leaving in six hours. If the prosecutor is not fired, you’re not getting the money. Well, son of a bitch. (Laughter.) He got fired. And they put in place someone who was solid at the time.
Several papers claimed that the story Biden told happened in March 2016. That is however not correct:
Biden never traveled to Ukraine that month. The Ukrainian president at the time, Petro Poroshenko, traveled to Washington in March — but only after the prosecutor general, Viktor Shokin, had already been dismissed by the Ukrainian parliament.Why the confusion? Because Biden managed to squeeze months of diplomacy into a few hours when he recounted the story years later at the Council on Foreign Relations.
After the U.S. sponsored Maidan coup in 2014 then Vice President Joe Biden led the Ukraine policy of the Obama administration. His campaign against prosecutor general Shokin started in September 2015:
[The U.S. ambassador at the time, Geoffrey] Pyatt kicked off the effort with a speech on Sept. 24, 2015 in which he blasted Shokin for “openly and aggressively undermining reform” and having “undermined prosecutors working on legitimate corruption cases.” In testimony to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Oct. 8, Nuland declared: “The Prosecutor General’s Office has to be reinvented as an institution that serves the citizens of Ukraine, rather than ripping them off.”Biden followed up with a visit to Kiev in December. On Dec. 7, he held a news conference with Poroshenko and announced $190 million to “fight corruption in law enforcement and reform the justice sector.” He made no public mention of the loan guarantee, but behind the scenes he had explicitly linked the $1 billion loan guarantee to reform efforts, including removing Shokin, according to Colin Kahl, Biden’s national security adviser at the time.
A day after the news conference, he addressed the Ukrainian parliament and decried the “cancer of corruption” in the country. “The Office of the General Prosecutor desperately needs reform,” he noted.
Biden next met on Jan. 20 with Poroshenko on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, when he also pressed “the need to continue to move forward on Ukraine’s anti-corruption agenda,” according to a White House statement.
The campaign was rather slow. But in February Biden’s efforts to get Shokin fired suddenly went into overdrive:
Feb. 12: Biden spoke to Poroshenko by phone. “The two leaders agreed on the importance of unity among Ukrainian political forces to quickly pass reforms in line with the commitments in its IMF program, including measures focused on rooting out corruption,” the White House said.Feb. 16: Poroshenko announced he had asked Shokin to resign. […]
Feb. 18: Another call took place between Biden and Poroshenko. […]
Feb. 19: Poroshenko announced he has received Shokin’s resignation letter. It still required parliamentary approval, and Shokin did not go away quietly.
That same day, Biden spoke separately to Poroshenko and Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk. […]
March 16: Reports emerged that Shokin was back at work after having been on vacation. […]
March 22: Biden and Poroshenko spoke again by phone […]
March 29: The Ukrainian parliament, in a 289-to-6 vote, approved Shokin’s dismissal.
On March 31, Poroshenko met with Biden during a trip to Washington, and Biden emphasized that the loan guarantee was contingent on further reform progress beyond Shokin’s removal.
On April 14, Biden and Poroshenko had another call. Biden congratulated the president on his new cabinet and “stressed the urgency of putting in place a new Prosecutor General […]
May 12: Poroshenko nominated Yuriy Lutsenko as the new prosecutor general.
On May 13, in a phone call, Biden told Poroshenko he welcomed Lutsenko’s appointment […]
The Biden driven campaign against Shokin started slow but in February 2016 it went into a frenzy. What had happened? Did it have to do with Burisma?
U.S. mainstream reporting denies that. The Washington Post wrote:
Giuliani’s primary allegation — that Joe Biden pushed for the firing of Ukraine’s top prosecutor to quash a probe into the former minister and Burisma owner Mykola Zlochevsky — is not substantiated and has been widely disputed by former U.S. officials and Ukrainian anti-corruption activists.
Even as he overhauled Burisma, Zlochevsky remained in the crosshairs of authorities in Ukraine. By 2015, prosecutors had opened two probes into the former ecology minister — one into claims of unlawful enrichment and the other into alleged abuse of power, forgery and embezzlement, according to documents from the prosecutor general’s office reviewed by the Wall Street Journal at the time. Zlochevsky denied wrongdoing in those cases.
Shokin — who has provided information about Biden to Giuliani — told The Post earlier this year that he believes he was ousted in March 2016 because he was investigating Burisma. If he had been allowed to remain in the job, he would have questioned Hunter Biden’s qualifications to be a board member, he said, noting that “this person had no work experience in Ukraine or in the energy sector.”But at the time, the Zlochevsky case was dormant, according to former Ukrainian and U.S. officials.
[Daria Kaleniuk, executive director of the Anti-Corruption Action Center,] recalled how she and other anti-corruption activists in Ukraine criticized Shokin heavily for not pursuing the investigation and hoped his dismissal would re-energize the case.
The New York Times makes a slightly different claim:
Mr. Zlochevsky’s allies were relieved by the dismissal of Mr. Shokin, the prosecutor whose ouster Mr. Biden had sought, according to people familiar with the situation.Mr. Shokin was not aggressively pursuing investigations into Mr. Zlochevsky or Burisma. But the oligarch’s allies say Mr. Shokin was using the threat of prosecution to try to solicit bribes from Mr. Zlochevsky and his team, and that left the oligarch’s team leery of dealing with the prosecutor.
The above accounts are incorrect. Shokin did go after Zlochevsky. He opened two cases against him in 2015. After he did that Biden and his crew started to lobby for his firing. Shokin was aggressively pursuing the case. He did so just before Biden’s campaign against him went into a frenzy.
On February 4 2016 Interfax-Ukraine reported:
The movable and immovable property of former Minister of Ecology and Natural Resources of Ukraine Mykola Zlochevsky in Ukraine has been seized, according to the press service of the Prosecutor General’s Office of Ukraine (PGO).”The PGO filed a petition to court to arrest the property of the ex-Minister of Ecology and Natural Resources of Ukraine, the Deputy Secretary of the National Security and Defence Council of Ukraine, Mykola Zlochevsky, from which arrest was withdrawn, and other property he actually uses, namely housing estate with a total area of 922 square meters, a land plot of 0.24 hectares, a garden house with a total area of 299.8 square meters, a garden house in the territory of Vyshgorod district, a garden house of 2,312 square meters, a land plot of 0.0394 hectares, a Rolls-Royce Phantom car, a Knott 924-5014 trainer,” reads the report.
The PGO clarifies that the court satisfied the petition on February 2, 2016.
Zlochevsky is suspected of committing a criminal offense under Part 3 of Article 368-2 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine (illicit enrichment).
On February 2 Shokin confiscated four large houses Zlochevsky owned plus a Rolls-Royce Phantom and a “Knott 924-5014 trainer”. (Anyone knows what that is?) Ten days later Biden goes into overdrive to get him fired. Within one week he personally calls Poroshenko three times with only one major aim: to get Shokin fired.
The Washington Post falsely claimed that the Zlochevsky case was “dormant”. The executive director of the U.S. and EU financed Anti-Corruption Action Center falsely claimed that the prosecutor was “not pursuing the investigation”. The NYTrepeated that false claim and added an obvious false claim from unnamed Zlochevsky “allies”. Why did the media claim Shokin did nothing against Zlochevsky when the record shows the opposite?
Zlochevsky had hired Joe Biden’s son Hunter for at least $50,000 per month. In 2015 Shokin started to investigate him in two cases. During the fall of 2015 Joe Biden’s team begins to lobby against him. On February 2 Shokin seizes Zlochevsky’s houses. Shortly afterwards the Biden camp goes berserk with Biden himself making nearly daily phonecalls. Shokin goes on vacation while Poroshenko (falsely) claims that he resigned. When Shokin comes back into office Biden again takes to the phone. A week later Shokin is out.
Biden got the new prosecutor general he wanted. The new guy made a bit of show and then closed the case against Zlochevsky:
Mr. Shokin was replaced by a prosecutor named Yuriy Lutsenko, whom former Vice President Biden later called “someone who was solid at the time.” Mr. Zlochevsky’s representatives were pleased by the choice, concluding they could work with Mr. Lutsenko to resolve the oligarch’s legal issues, according to the people familiar with the situation.While Mr. Lutsenko initially took a hard line against Burisma, within 10 months after he took office, Burisma announced that Mr. Lutsenko and the courts had “fully closed” all “legal proceedings and pending criminal allegations” against Mr. Zlochevsky and his companies.
The oligarch, who had fled the country amid investigations by previous prosecutors, was removed by a Ukrainian court from “the wanted list,” and returned to the country.
When the political wind from Washington changed the prosecutor general Biden earlier lauded proved to be flexible:
This year, though, Mr. Lutsenko’s office moved to restart scrutiny of Mr. Zlochevsky.
The timeline above seems to support Shokin’s claim that he was fired on Joe Biden’s order because he went after Zlochevsky who paid Biden’s son a very significant monthly sum.
That U.S. main stream media try to obfuscate or even deny that Shokin was serious in his investigation lets one doubt their other claims about the Biden affair and the now evolving impeachment inquiry.
I am not against an impeachment of Trump. But to go after him because he asks serious questions about Biden’s shenanigan in the Ukraine is not a productive way do that. Those questions must be asked and answered.