“House Republicans have uncovered serious incredible allegations into President Biden’s conduct taken together these allegations paint a picture of a culture of corruption.”
That was House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) on Sept. 12 announcing that he was directing the House committees on Oversight, Judiciary and Ways and Means to pursue an impeachment inquiry of President Joe Biden, alleging bribery and an overall “culture of corruption” to do with Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, and his foreign business dealings in Ukraine and elsewhere, dating from Biden’s time as Vice President from 2009 to Jan. 2017.
McCarthy added, “Through our investigations we have found that President Biden did lie to the American people about his own knowledge of his family’s foreign business dealings. Eyewitnesses have testified that the President joined on multiple phone calls and had multiple interactions; dinners resulted in cars and millions of dollars into his son’s and his son’s business partners we know that bank records show that nearly $20 million in payments were directed to the Biden family members and associates through various shell companies.”
That included Hunter Biden serving on the board of directors of Ukrainian natural gas company, Burisma, for which he received $5 million, McCarthy said, explaining, “Biden used his official office to coordinate with Hunter Biden’s business partners about Hunter’s role in Burisma, the Ukrainian energy company.”
Former Hunter Biden business partner Devon Archer has testified that Hunter Biden “called his dad” when he was being pressured by Burisma, whom he also served on the board of directors, for “help in D.C.” on Dec. 4, 2015 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, according to a transcript of his July 31 testimony to the House Oversight Committee.
Hunter Biden was specifically asked for help with Ukrainian government investigations into Burisma and Burisma CEO Mykola Zlochevsky: “The request was I think they were getting pressure and they requested Hunter, you know, help them with some of that pressure… Government. Government pressure on their — you know, government pressure from Ukrainian Government investigations into [Burisma CEO] Mykola [Zlochevsky], et cetera.”
The Ukrainian government investigations into Burisma and Burisma CEO Zlochevsky at that time were being led by Ukrainian Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin. According to Archer, “[T]here was several pressure issues. It was kind of a theme of Burisma. There was capital tied up in London, 23 million pounds. There was, you know, a U.S. visa denied and then a Mexico visa denied. And then there was — so [Ukrainian Prosecutor General] Shokin wasn’t specifically on my radar as being an individual that was — that was targeting him. But yes, there was constant pressure. And it was like — it was like whack-a-mole in regards to the pressures that had to resolve.”
Archer added, “it was a high-pressure environment, and … there was constant requests for help.”
And according to Archer, when requested for help, Hunter Biden “called his dad,” then-Vice President Joe Biden, but said he did not hear the phone call: “Listen, I did not hear this phone call, but he — he called his dad.”
When asked how he knew that if he did not hear the phone call, Archer stated that Burisma CFO Vadym Pozharsky told him so: “Because he — because I think [Burisma CFO] Vadym [Pozharsky] told me. But, again, it’s unclear. I just know that there was a call that happened there and I was not privy to it.”
Archer’s testimony appeared to in part confirm a June 26, 2020 FD-1023 released by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer (R-Ky.) that alleged the Bidens took $10 million of bribes to protect Burisma’s bid for a U.S.-based initial public offering and referenced the Shokin firing.
According to the confidential source, the meeting in early 2016, said to be in Vienna, Austria between Burisma CEO Mykola Zlochevsky, Burisma CFO Alexander Ostapenko and the source, “took place around the time Joe Biden made a public statement about (former) Ukraine Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin being corrupt, and that he should be fired/removed from office. CHS told Zlochevsky that due to Shokin’s investigation into Burisma, which was made public at this time, it would have a substantial negative impact on Burisma’s prospective IPO in the United States. Zlochevsky replied something to the effect of, ‘Don’t worry Hunter will take care of all of those issues through his dad.’”
In the FD-1023, the source quoted Zlochevsky as allegedly stating, “it cost 5 (million) to pay one Biden, and 5 (million) to another Biden…”
In Jan. 2018, then former Vice President Joe Biden bragged to the Council on Foreign Relations about getting Shokin fired by threatening to withhold a $1.2 billion International Monetary Fund (IMF) loan from then Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko in March 2016.
According to Biden, “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, he got fired. And they put in place someone who was solid at the time.”
Shokin in April 2019 told journalist John Solomon that prior to the election of the new Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, he was removed in 2016 because of his investigation of Burisma, which Biden’s son, Hunter, served on the Board of Directors of.
In an affidavit in a European court in 2019, Shokin testified, “The truth is that I was forced out because I was leading a wide-ranging corruption probe into Burisma Holdings, a natural gas firm active in Ukraine and Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, was a member of the Board of Directors… On several occasions President Poroshenko asked me to have a look at the case against Burisma and consider the possibility of winding down the investigative actions in respect of this company but I refused to close this investigation.”
This was the matter President Donald Trump sought to have Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky “look into” on the July 25, 2019 phone call with current Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. In the phone call with Zelensky, Trump said, “It sounds horrible to me.”
In a speech to the Ukrainian Rada (the legislature) on Dec. 9, 2015, just days after the Burisma board meeting in Dubai, then Vice President Biden stated of Shokin and his office was “desperately [in need of] reform”: “[I]t’s not enough to set up a new anti-corruption bureau and establish a special prosecutor fighting corruption. The Office of the General Prosecutor desperately needs reform. The judiciary should be overhauled. The energy sector needs to be competitive, ruled by market principles — not sweetheart deals.”
Biden added, “It’s not enough to push through laws to increase transparency with regard to official sources of income. Senior elected officials have to remove all conflicts between their business interest and their government responsibilities.”
And afterward, on May 13, 2016, according to the Obama White House, Biden had a phone call with Poroshenko about the Prosecutor General’s office, officially welcoming the firing of Shokin: “The Vice President spoke today with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko. The Vice President welcomed the appointment of a new Prosecutor General as an important first step to bringing much-needed reform to the Office of the Prosecutor General. The Vice President also commended legislative changes that will set up an independent Office of the Inspector General in the Office of the Prosecutor General and allow prosecutions to begin against Yanukovych-era officials. The Vice President informed President Poroshenko that the United States was prepared to move forward with the signing of the third $1 billion loan guarantee agreement, which will support continued progress on Ukrainian reforms.”
In that call, the IMF loans were directly tied to the reforms at the Prosecutor General’s office, which meant new leadership. Shokin had to go. And it happened after Burisma asked Hunter Biden for help with Shokin’s investigations, complete with speeches to Ukraine’s parliament and discussions with the Ukrainian president.
Adding insult to injury, McCarthy said that the federal departments and agencies were covering these activities up, both via the Justice Department, the Internal Revenue Service, Treasury. What he didn’t mention was intelligence agencies, too, who may have had a role in covering up and censoring the leaked May 2016 phone call between Biden and Poroshenko that was later removed by YouTube but is still viewable on web.archive.org, where Biden is heard saying, “[C]ongratulations on installing the new prosecutor general, it’s going to be critical for him to work quickly to repair the damage Shokin did. And I’m a man of my word. And now that the new prosecutor general is in place, we’re ready to move forward in signing that one billion dollar loan guarantee.” The call’s transcript appears to match the White House’s description of the call, and the phone call is said to have been recorded by Poroshenko himself.
But when the audio was released in 2020 during the presidential election campaign, U.S. officials said that the Ukrainian lawmaker who had released it, Andrii Derkach, was an “active Russian agent”. In a Sept. 2020 AP News story, disinformation “expert” Nina Janckowicz, then a disinformation fellow at the Wilson Center, was quoted, “It’s certainly an influence campaign… It’s misleading to an audience that doesn’t have the full picture.”
At the same time, the U.S. Treasury was officially sanctioning Derkach in Sept. 2020. According to the Treasury statement, “Derkach has directly or indirectly engaged in, sponsored, concealed, or otherwise been complicit in foreign interference in an attempt to undermine the upcoming 2020 U.S. presidential election. Today’s designation of Derkach is focused on exposing Russian malign influence campaigns and protecting our upcoming elections from foreign interference.”
The Treasury’s efforts appeared in tandem with the 2018 through 2020 National Defense Authorization Acts included extensive provisions allowing the government to target what it calls “foreign malign influence” by Russia and other countries, but which was used to target to speech of regular Americans, including violating the freedom of the press as it related to reports about Russiagate and also the Hunter Biden laptop story.
In the 2018 NDAA, under Sec. 1239A it authorized the censorship: “The Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of State, in coordination with the appropriate United States Government officials, shall jointly develop a comprehensive strategy to counter the threat of malign influence” including “the use of misinformation, disinformation, and propaganda in social and traditional media” and “Efforts to work with traditional and social media providers to attribute and counter the threat of malign influence…”
The video of the Biden-Poroshenko call was removed according to the service: “This video is no longer available because the YouTube account associated with this video has been terminated.”
Was the Biden-Poroshenko terminated at the behest of government officials who were actively calling it Russian disinformation, similar to the Hunter Biden laptop? To find out, House Republicans should be using the House’s superlative impeachment inquiry powers to compel testimony and evidence for Biden’s Dec. 2015 trip to Ukraine, his March 2016 trip to Ukraine, the transcript of the May 2016 phone call and the U.S. Treasury (and other agency) roles in suppressing its publication, in addition to the Justice Department’s role in suppressing the Hunter Biden investigation and whatever outstanding bank records and other information have still not been turned over.
On Aug. 22, McCarthy on Fox Business in an interview with host Larry Kudlow on Aug. 22 said the White House was not fully cooperating, “Provide us with the documents we’re asking [for]. The whole determination here is how the Bidens handle this. If they provide us the documents there wouldn’t be a need for an impeachment inquiry, but if they withhold the documents and fight like they have now and not provide the American public what they deserve to know, we will move forward with impeachment inquiry when we come back into session.”
In the interview, McCarthy demanded the documents, including bank statements and credit card statements, about Biden’s family business dealings with foreign entities: “If the Biden administration continues to fight to withhold information that could really clear all this up — Did they take bribes? Did they deal in the business? — if they hold that up, we would have to move to an impeachment inquiry, which you know, Larry, gives the apex of power to Congress when it comes to our subpoena power and others to get the documents we need: the bank statements, the credit card statements and others.”
Now that the impeachment inquiry has been launched, the implication is that there are still more documents to be obtained that would shed light on the Biden family’s business dealings. Now, three separate House committees appear to be in hot pursuit as the 2024 presidential campaign rapidly approaches. A good question will be whether there are the votes to actually impeach Biden in the House, even as evidence showing probable cause continues to mount. Stay tuned.
Robert Romano is the Vice President of Public Policy at Americans for Limited Government Foundation.
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