The above title is a string of confusing words making little sense, but an appropriate title will emerge if we can find answers to the following questions which are the main focus of this article. The questions are:
1. Should President Trump be impeached as the Democrat controlled Congress initiating an impeachment investigation? Or is the Congress performing a witch-hunt?
2. Was President Trump, in his phone conversation asking the Ukraine President to investigate Hunter, son of Presidential candidate Joe Biden on the possibility of committing corruption in Hunter’s activities in Ukraine, himself committing an impeachable crime or just doing his job investigating a national security matter involving a common citizen? Or is Trump performing a witch-hunt?
3. Did Hunter Biden’s accepting a board position in a Ukraine gas corporation, Burisma Holdings, in 2014 (Burisma was under a corruption investigation but charge was later dropped) and Biden’s visiting Ukraine numerous times promoting anti-corruption message constitute a conflict of interest? Did they know what each other was doing?
4. Did Biden get Ukraine’s top Prosecutor, Shokin, fired so he won’t investigate Burisma, where Hunter Biden was a board member? Or Shokin was fired for not aggressive enough on corruption investigation?
5. Did U.S. Senators ask Ukraine to continue investigating corruption cases probed by the U.S. General Prosecutor Mueller (Mueller investigation of Russiagate)? Was their purpose a witch-hunt?
6. Don’t American citizens have the right to study the facts? Can American citizens do anything about the dirty politics and/or messy bipartisan democracy?
We citizens should not be fed with any bias or pre-conceived notion to the above questions. We must sort out the media reports from both party camps. Hopefully, after checking the facts, we can describe the Trump-Biden-Ukraine saga with a proper title.
We must first trace back to 2014 with reference to James Risen’s article, “Joe Biden, His Son and the Case Against a Ukrainian Oligarch”, NY Times, 12-8-2015. Hunter Biden, 45, Joe Biden’s son, a former Washington lobbyist, joined the Burisma Holdings’ board in April 2014. (Burisma was owned by Mykola Zlochevsky, Ukraine’s ecology minister under former President Viktor F. Yanukovych until forced into exile.) That month, in investigating money laundering, British Serious Fraud Office froze London bank accounts containing $23 million, allegedly belonged to Mr. Zlochevsky. The Ukraine prosecutor’s office refused to furnish documents to UK investigation; hence the court unfroze the funds. Cited by Risen, Edward C. Chow, who follows Ukrainian policy at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said the involvement of the vice president’s son with Mr. Zlochevsky’s firm undermined the Obama administration’s anticorruption message in Ukraine. (Ironically, Peter Baker, on 12-8-2015, also published an article in NY Times, “In Ukraine, Joe Biden Pushes a Message of Democracy.” Mr. Chow said, “Now you look at the Hunter Biden situation, and on the one hand you can credit the father for sending the anticorruption message,...., But I think unfortunately it sends the message that a lot of foreign countries want to believe about America, that we are hypocritical about these issues.” Senior Biden’s spokeswoman, Kate Bedingfield, said, Hunter Biden’s business dealings had no impact on his father’s policy positions in connection with Ukraine.
Bloomberg News summarized the Trump-Biden-Ukraine story in an article, “Whistle-Blower Fight Puts Focus on Trump Pressure on Ukraine”, by Billy House and Jordan Fabian, 9-20-2019. President Donald Trump and his allies have been promoting allegations that a potential 2020 rival, former Vice President Joe Biden, improperly intervened in the affairs of Ukraine to protect his son, Hunter Biden. A whistle blower in the intelligence community raised concerns about Trump’s interactions with a foreign leader, referencing to Trump’s phone call (7-25-2019) with the new President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky. According to a rough ‘phonecall’ transcript released on 9-25-2019 (Washington Post), Trump said to Zelensky, “There’s a lot of talk about Biden’s son, that Biden stopped the prosecution and a lot of people want to find out about that.” Trump was further implicated that he might have delayed the Ukraine aid in order to pressure Zelensky to investigate Hunter Biden. Ukraine denied such pressure. Now, Biden and his allies turned his ‘denial’ defense into a Democrat offense with Impeachment investigation on Trump raising eyebrows worldwide.
Mark A Thiessen, in his article, “Democrats’ double standard on Ukraine”, 9-24-2019 Washington Post, brushing aside whether or not President Trump delayed military aid to Ukraine as leverage to pressure Ukraine’s president to reopen Hunter Biden’s investigation, raised concerns about other U.S. officials inappropriately threatened jeopardizing aid to Ukraine. According to an CNN report (Sophie Tatum, 5-4-2018), three Democratic senators, Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.) and Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.) asked about Ukraine involvement in Robert Mueller probe and wrote a letter to Ukraine’s prosecutor general, Yuriy Lutsenko, expressing concern at the closing of four investigations they said were critical to the Mueller probe and implying that their support for U.S. assistance to Ukraine was at stake. Were these senators doing their job watching US foreign aid or trying to use foreign country to witch-hunt their political opponents?
James Risen in 2015 would not have known Trump to be the next President, his report went into details about Hunter Biden’s background, George Town and Yale graduate, lawyer and lobbyist before his father became Vice President, received a commission as Public Affairs Officer in 2013, but was discharged in 2014 by the Navy Reserve for using cocaine and then accepted the board position in Burisma of Ukraine. Risen’s article was not a witch-hunt but reflected his concern for possible conflict of interest so did the former US Ambassador, Steven Pifer (served from 1998-2000). “I’ve got to believe that somebody in the Vice President’s office has done some due diligence on this,” said Pifer, “I should say that I hope that has happened. I would hope that they have done some kind of check, because I think the Vice President has done a very good job of sending the anticorruption message in Ukraine, and you would hate to see something like this undercut that message.”
Mark Thiessen in addition to questioning the Democratic Senators for interfering in Ukraine Aid, he also furnished evidence of Joe Biden’s interference with whatever diplomatic motive and his knowledge of his son’s involvement in Ukraine. He cited a Washington Post article, “As Vice President, Biden said Ukraine should increase gas production. Then his son got a job with a Ukrainian gas company.” (Michael Kranish and David L. Stern, 7-22-2019). In 2016, the then Vice President threatened to withhold $1 billion in U.S. loan guarantees to Ukraine if the government did not fire the country’s top prosecutor, Viktor Shokin. (Greg Sargent, Washington Post, 9-24-2019) Then Shokin, who was criticized for not taking an aggressive role on anti-corruption while Burisma was under his investigation at the time, was fired and Joe Biden bragged about it (Foreign Affairs Issue Launch, with Former Vice President Joe Biden, speaker, 1-23-2018). Biden could be doing his job to promote anti-corruption in Ukraine with no concern for Hunter Biden’s role in Burisma, however, his denial of not knowing his son’s activities in Ukraine was flatly untrue. (Adam Entous, “Will Hunter Biden Jeopardize His Father’s Campaign?”, New Yorker, 7-8/15-2019 Issue) “In December, 2015, as Joe Biden prepared to return to Ukraine, his aides braced for renewed scrutiny of Hunter’s relationship with Burisma. Amos Hochstein, the Obama Administration’s special envoy for energy policy, raised the matter with Biden.” We note that the James Risen article appeared on 12-8-2015.
With the above analysis of the background and critical elements in the Trump-Biden-Ukraine affair, we have obtained answers to our questions and to the central issue: Who is acting with a conflict of interest? Biden may claim that he was executing his diplomatic mission in Ukraine; his son’s activities had no impact on his mission. Trump may claim that he was executing his presidential duty to investigate Hunter Biden’s possible wrong doing in Ukraine regardless who is Hunter’s father. Both Trump and Biden may feel each being witch-hunted by the other, but we see them as dirty politics. The impeachment investigation initiated by the Democrats looks more like bipartisan politics hyped by the 2020 election than fully justified. First, the above cited three Democratic Senators need to explain their interference in Ukraine. The 12 Democratic Senate seats up for re-election and any other Republican held seat for contest as well as the Democratic presidential candidates undergoing primary contest will see different impact brought on by the Impeachment Proceedings. On the other hand, the Impeachment proceedings and news will solidify the Republicans to battle hard against their Democratic opponents in 2020. Therefore, we may change the title of this article to be: ‘Impeach Trump Appears to Be Dirty Politics and Messy Bipartisan Democracy.’