If anything concrete has come from the Democrat-fueled impeachment hearings being spearheaded by House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff, it’s this: Witnesses acknowledge Hunter Biden’s Burisma Holdings’ post came in at “less than comfortable” on the old ethics scale.
So why isn’t Capitol Hill and the media more focused on this as an investigation?
“Impeachment witnesses suggest Hunter Biden’s Ukraine ties could be conflict of interest,” The New York Post reported.
And yet: There’s a double standard being played here.
On Biden, where the quid pro quo intent was obvious — where Joe Biden actually bragged about threatening to hold up $1 billion in U.S. aid to Ukraine unless then-President Petro Poroshenko fired a prosecutor who was investigating, in part, Burisma Holdings, where Hunter served as a board member — it’s all conspiracy theory and tin hat crazy to suggest anything nefarious, to call for deeper scrutiny. Biden, we’re told, was simply rooting out corruption, taking a tough-guy approach, and after all, that’s what a good vice president who loves his country should do. Right?
But on President Donald Trump, where a quid pro quo with newly elected Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky is alleged but denied and unproven — it’s impeach, impeach, impeach. It’s automatically assumed Trump, by simply referencing “Biden’s son” in a July 25 telephone call to Zelensky, was making a not-so-veiled threat to tie U.S. aid for Ukraine to an investigation of Hunter Biden’s Burisma dealings, and of Joe Biden’s influence in Ukraine. It’s automatically alleged that Trump was using his presidential position as a platform to bribe, for political gain.
Why the different standards when the allegations are so similar?
It makes one wonder: How come a quid pro quo is automatically seen as commendable in a Democrat, but nefarious in a Republican?
The trail of red flags that the Bidens and Burisma leave is so, so, so much longer than the one Trump leaves, after all.
Here are the pertinent bullet points about the Bidens: In 2002, Mykola Zlochevsky co-founded the oil and natural gas company, Burisma Holdings, located in Ukraine but registered in the well-known tax haven of Cyprus. Red flag number one.
During the presidency of Viktor Yanukovych, and while still owning Burisma, Zlochevsky also served as Ukraine’s minister of natural resources — a conflict of interest in itself. Red flag number two.
In 2014, amid accusations of money laundering and questions about shady-looking gas drilling permit sales, and amid a chaotic national uprising and economic crumbling, he was forced to flee Ukraine. Red flag number three.
Enter Hunter Biden, joining Burisma as a board member — as a board member who’s paid $50,000 a month, according to the Wall Street Journal. Over the next couple years, Burisma and Zlochevsky faced more scrutiny and investigations, in part by a prosecutor general named Viktor Shokin. Over these same years, image be danged, Hunter Biden maintained his board position. Red flag number four.
Now enter Joe Biden, circa 2016.
That’s when he pressured Ukraine to oust Shokin as an investigator into Burisma corruption. How? By threatening to withhold $1 billion in U.S. loan guarantees.
Biden, recalling his conversation to Poroshenko before a Council on Foreign Relations audience in January, 2018, said this: “I looked at them and said, ‘I’m leaving in six hours. If the prosecutor [Shokin] is not fired, you’re not getting the money.’ ”
And guess what?
“Well, son of a bitch,” Biden said, during this 2018 CFR talk, “he got fired.”
Zlochevsky, meanwhile, returned to Ukraine in 2018, free and clear of any charges.
Whether Shokin, who was alleged to have been corrupt, deserved to be fired or not is not the deeper point. The deeper point is this: Hunter Biden didn’t resign his Burisma board position until 2019.
And when he did resign, it was to save his campaigning father political face. It wasn’t because of concerns about Ukraine corruption. That just begs the question: Why would Hunter want to associate with such a known corrupt entity — and for so many years?
“Transparency International’s most recent Corruption Perceptions Index ranks Ukraine 120th out of 182 countries, making it the second most corrupt country in Europe after Russia,” National Interest reported in March. “Similarly, a recent Freedom House survey assesses the level of corruption in Ukraine today as only slightly better than at the height of the presidency of Viktor Yanukovych, who was toppled four years ago in the Maidan revolution.”
Add to that a 2014 conference in Britain where talk centered on recovering money embezzled from Ukraine — and the freezing of millions of dollars in one of Zlochevsky’s accounts — along with a 2017 conference, again in Britain, where Poroshenko begged for help in combating his country’s corruption, and it’s clear: Ukraine’s reputation for corruption is well-known.
It’s not as if Hunter Biden could plead ignorance.
It matters for various reasons, but mostly because we’re now watching an impeachment hunt orchestrated by the Democrats against a president who’s accused of doing something one of their own has actually bragged about doing — yet they’re turning blind eyes to their own.
Turning blind eyes — even while admitting there’s certainly something to see there.
“Impeachment witnesses concede Hunter Biden’s Burisma role raised ‘conflict’ concerns, after [Rep. Elise] Stefanik grilling,” Fox News reported.
Concede, yes. Pursue? No. Not now, not during the impeachment inquiry.
It’s true, multiple investigations have cleared Zlochevsky and Burisma of any wrongdoing (minus some tax paybacks, that is). Same with both Bidens; they’ve committed no wrongdoing that has brought them trouble with the law. But questions linger for a reason. Perception matters. Democrats themselves know that; they’re pinning their whole impeachment hopes on selling perceptions against this president, for crying out loud.
And that’s what’s most maddening about this whole Ukraine mess. What’s good for the goose certainly isn’t being seen as good for the gander.
“Adam Schiff refuses to allow this committee to call Hunter Biden,” Stefanik said, on Capitol Hill this week.
On the one side: a long, long trail of big money, big corruption, big chaos, big investigations and the Bidens — and nothing to see here, folks, go home. On the other, a telephone call, a transcript and Trump — and it’s impeach, impeach, impeach.
At best, it’s a missed story. At worst, it’s a coverup of one, hatchet job of another. Either way, it’s a double standard — and the American people deserve better. If what the Bidens did in Ukraine is no cause for alarm, then what Trump said during his July 25 call with Ukraine’s president is no cause for alarm. The left can’t have it both ways.
• Cheryl Chumley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter, @ckchumley.
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