If, as expected, the House impeaches President Donald Trump on the basis of the Ukrainian controversy, the contract of Hunter Biden with the Ukrainian energy company, Burisma, will likely be a focus of the defense. That has made some members uneasy since the $50,000 paid every month to Biden is widely viewed as a classic scheme to influence his father, who was the key official in charge of Ukrainian aid and assistance. For that reason, the defense of the Bidens by Sen. Chris Murphy (D., Conn.) on CNN’s “State of The Union” drew many Beltway insiders. Murphy however may have highlighted the problem with the omission of a single word.
I have previously criticized the Biden contract as a glaring example of influence peddling. I have written for decades about this common practice where companies give windfall contracts or payments to the children of powerful U.S. politicians to evade bribery and corruption statutes. The Burisma contract was as flagrant an example of such corruption as you can possibly get.
So when Murphy was asked about the contract, many of us leaned forward to hear how Democrats might thread this needle. His response was telling for what it did not say:
“Well, I think in an interview Hunter Biden, himself, admitted that he had possibly made a mistake.But let’s be clear, Hunter Biden didn’t do anything illegal and his father, the vice president, didn’t do anything illegal or unethical.”
There was no follow up on the glaring omission of the word “unethical” with reference to Hunter Biden. Thus, for Joe Biden, Sen. Murphy insisted that everything he did was legal and ethical. For Hunter Biden, he only said it was legal. It is indeed legal . . . and corrupt. Such positions for spouses and children is the main way companies can still enrich politicians and buy influence. Members of both parties have benefitted from this practice. It is not however ethical under any plausible interpretation of that word. Hunter Biden cashed in on his father’s position and diplomats like George Kent flagged the glaring conflict of interest. Kent was reportedly blown off by Biden’s staff in the Vice President’s office. Thus, while we were clamoring for anti-corruption measures (and Biden was withholding over a billion dollars in aid for that purpose), Ukrainians were pouring 50K a month into the pocket of Biden’s son.
There is also a second problem for Joe Biden. The former Vice President has stressed that he never spoke to his son about this foreign dealings. Hunter Biden contradicted that statement and said that he did speak with his father about Burisma. However, even if true, why is that an ethical approach to your office. You know that your son is cutting foreign deals but you do not question him on possible conflicts of interest? Ethics often demand preemptive not just responsive efforts. Joe Biden appears to believe that he was ethical so long as he did not learn of conflicts. Most of us maintain that you have to actively protect against such conflicts, particularly when you represent this country.
Democrats cannot have it both ways. You cannot call for scrutiny of Trump family contracts in foreign countries while twisting yourself into a knot to avoid acknowledging the obvious about the Hunter Biden contract. It was unethical and corrupt. Omitting the word is not a profile in courage. If politicians are truly opposed to such influence peddling, they will have to say so expressly and not simply by subtle omission.
106 thoughts on “Senator Murphy’s Defense Of Hunter Biden Conspicuously Leaves Out One Word . . .”
Professor Turley Law School Exam Question: Discuss the laws relevant to Vice President Joe Biden and Hunter Biden and their dealings in the Ukraine and China.
Law Student: None that I can think of.
Professor Turley: Excellent analysis. Congratulations, you’ve earned an A!
The issue is NOT Hunter – it is Joe.
VP Biden’s conduct was absolutely positively completely unethical.
That is completely beyond any doubt. He had a personal conflict of interest that was Gigantic. Once Hunter started doing business in Ukraine. VP Biden could not involve himself in ANYTHING that MIGHT be perceived as benefiting his son.
He absolutely positively could not participate in anything the DID benefit his son.
At the absolute barest minimum VP Biden needed to remove himself from anything involving in any way the Ukrainian investigations that might involve his son.
That means VP Biden needed to stay 10,000 miles away from Shokin.
Not only didnt he but he overtly threatened the Ukraine in the way Trump is accused of, but not for arguably justifiable reasons that might also provide political benefits – the benefit was PERSONAL
There are no facts that need to be explored. There is nothing to be discovered that alters the fact that it was justifiable to ask for even demand an investigation into Biden.
Who will congratulate Joe Biden on his newest grandchild during the Democrat Debate tonight?
“A DNA test revealed Hunter Biden fathered a baby with another woman while he was dating his brother’s widow”
Wonder if the “news” will talk about this juicy Biden family scandal —–>
A DNA test revealed Hunter Biden fathered a baby with another woman while he was dating his brother’s widow
The filing said Biden, the son of former Vice President Joe Biden, is “not expected to challenge the results of the DNA test or the testing process.” He has not commented publicly on it.
In May, Roberts, who said she and Hunter Biden’s relationship resulted in a child born in August 2018, filed a petition for paternity and child support and a request for him to pay healthcare for the child, according to the Daily Beast.
Biden’s relationship history is complicated. In 2017, he finalized his divorce from Kathleen Biden, his wife of more than 20 years, after she accused him of spending money on drugs and strip clubs…
Hunter Biden’s ex-wife Kathleen is good buddies with Michelle Obama. The Biden daughters are close friends with the Obama daughters and spent many sleepovers at the White House with the Obama girls. In other words, Hunter Biden and his family are very chummy with Barack and Michelle Obama due to their daughters being close friends.
No biggie, Governor Northam will take care of it.
Grandpa Joe must be so proud!
Biden cannot win against Trump but the Dem party has no problem with his corruption.
Hey Joe, put 3 rounds in your double barrel shotgun.
Biden! Call him Biden!
What kind of people call him bidBi?
Fat kids..skinny kids..
Kids who climb on Rock!
Old bums..skinny bumbs…
Even kids with chicken pox..say bideB.
The dog kids …like..to..bite!
Capitol Building To Be Decorated As Giant Circus Tent For Duration Of Impeachment Hearings
As soon as congressional maintenance staff heard that the impeachment hearings were going to begin, they went into storage and got out “the Big Top,” also used during the Kavanaugh hearings last year.
“We keep the Big Top on hand for certain situations,” said one staff member. “Usually these big inquisition-style trials, that kind of thing. They’re great entertainment. And the kids love the monkeys.”
Congressional vendors will be selling peanuts, popcorn, programs, and those big foam fingers to enhance viewers’ experience.
Rep. Adam Schiff was furious with the changes, saying they make a mockery out of a serious show trial. “These are serious proceedings, and we will not have them mocked!” Schiff cried, wearing a clown nose, riding an elephant, and juggling fourteen flaming bowling pins. “The American public needs to know how super serious we are about this.”
“And now for my last stunt, I will create evidence for impeachment out of thin air!”
Jee, I wonder what Rep Schitf’s hobby is/was out in Hollyweird with Ed (Buck Dich) Buck?
I seem to recall the Gimp from Pulp Fiction looks like Schity, was he also a wannabe screen writer?
Nancy Pelosi was also unethical when she was head of ways and means. They exempted American Samoa from the mandatory minimum wage bill. Check it out.
Hunter Biden Is Only Part Of Ukraine Scandal
TRUMP PURSUED DEBUNKED CONSPIRACY THEORY
The warning signs were there. In a tweet or offhand remark, President Donald Trump would touch on what he said Ukraine had done to him during the 2016 election. Top Administration officials got an earful. Foreign leaders were treated to the stories. Occasionally his rants would unspool on live TV. “And Ukraine!” Trump shouted down the line to a Fox News host on June 19, the night after he formally announced his re-election bid. “Take a look at Ukraine!” he went on, as the host tried to move to other subjects.
Few people, even those closest to him in the White House, grasped exactly what the President of the United States seemed to believe: that Ukraine, a nation consumed over the past five years by a crippling armed conflict with Russia, had found a way to conspire against him during the 2016 election, and to collude with his rival, Hillary Clinton, by hiding the Democratic National Committee’s email server and feeding her allies dirt about Trump. It was an idea Tom Bossert, his first homeland-security adviser, described as a “completely debunked” conspiracy theory. Few saw in his Ukraine outbursts anything more than the effusions of a cable-news showman.
It took a complaint from an intelligence-community whistle-blower, released late last month, to reveal the weight of Trump’s Ukraine conspiracy theory and just how far the President has gone to support the notion that a vast network of enemies inside and outside his own government has been working against him.
In the past, many of his advisers tried to redirect Trump. They urged the President to accept the consensus of U.S. intelligence agencies: the true conspiracy of the 2016 election was that Russia interfered on his side. But those voices are long gone. In their place is a network of far-right Internet denizens, conservative media and members of Trump’s inner circle, advancing theories that have taken shape over the past two years. Those seeds have fallen on fertile ground.
It is perhaps not surprising that one of the first sources of the Ukraine conspiracy theory that has so captured the President’s imagination was the Russian Foreign Ministry in Moscow. As questions mounted over Kremlin interference in the 2016 presidential race, a ministry spokesperson suggested that Ukraine had “seriously complicated the work of Trump’s election-campaign headquarters by planting information” about its chairman, Paul Manafort. “All of you have heard this remarkable story,” the spokesperson, Maria Zakharova, told reporters in November 2016.
Like any good conspiracy theory, this one contained a sliver of truth. The leak that forced Manafort to leave the Trump campaign did come from Ukraine, and one of the people who publicized it was a lawmaker named Serhiy Leshchenko. Before he went into politics, Leshchenko worked as an investigative journalist and an activist against corruption. One focus of his research had been Manafort’s work for a Kremlin ally in Ukraine accused of siphoning at least $37 billion in government money into offshore bank accounts. “I’ve never made a secret of my anger at Manafort,” Leshchenko says. “He helped bring a regime to power that robbed my country.”
In August 2016, the New York Times revealed that Manafort had received more than $12 million in payments from that regime, and he was forced to resign from the Trump campaign. Days later, Leshchenko held a press conference in Kiev calling for Manafort to be investigated. That kindling–a wounded Trump campaign, the New York Times and an obscure Ukrainian lawmaker–would soon start a fire on the Internet, conflating events both real and imagined.
Leshchenko’s calls to investigate Manafort became part of a Ukrainian scheme with Democrats to smear the chairman of the Trump campaign. CrowdStrike, the security firm hired to investigate the hacking of emails from the DNC, was said to have covered up Ukraine’s role and framed Russia instead. And starting soon after his Inauguration, Trump piled on. “I heard [CrowdStrike is] owned by a very rich Ukrainian, that’s what I heard,” Trump told the Associated Press in April 2017. He would continue to repeat in other interviews that the firm was owned by Ukrainians or based there, despite the fact that it is a U.S. company based in Sunnyvale, Calif., with no known ties to Ukraine. Three months later, he cryptically tweeted about “Ukrainian efforts to sabotage Trump campaign” that had been “quietly working to boost Clinton.”
Whenever new allegations of Trump’s Russia ties emerged, his allies would revive the Ukraine theory. As the Mueller probe gained steam in the summer of 2017, Fox News host Sean Hannity devoted segments of his show to the allegations that the Clinton campaign had received help from Ukrainian officials, with a banner of the country’s blue-and-yellow flag reading in all-caps Ukrainian election interference? Trump’s son Donald Jr. amplified the Ukraine theories after his infamous Trump Tower meeting with a Kremlin-linked lawyer became public in July 2017, retweeting that “DNC operatives actively worked with Ukrainian government officials to dig up oppo research,” asking, “No outrage???”
As the Mueller probe drew to a close in the spring of this year, the President and Giuliani began to speak out more frequently about these theories. “As Russia Collusion fades, Ukrainian plot to help Clinton emerges,” Trump tweeted on March 20, two days before Mueller delivered his final report to the Attorney General.
All along, the pied piper of the Ukraine narrative was Giuliani. On the morning of May 11, a few days after a Senate committee called Trump’s eldest son to testify, Ukraine’s new government awoke to news footage of Giuliani declaring that there were “enemies of the United States” among them. Raising his voice over the anchor’s attempts to interrupt him, Trump’s lawyer even name-checked Leshchenko, the former journalist. He had been in line to join the Cabinet of President Volodymyr Zelensky, but Trump’s lawyer got in the way. “We knew Giuliani is the hand of Trump,” Leshchenko tells TIME. “Once he called me an enemy, it was clear I had to step aside.”
So far, the most valuable source for Giuliani in Ukraine has been Viktor Shokin, a former prosecutor general, who spoke to Giuliani over Skype in late 2018. Shokin later wrote a damning 12-page statement accusing Biden of abuse of power during his tenure as Vice President. “I was forced to leave office, under direct and intense pressure from Joe Biden and the U.S. Administration,” in order to stop an investigation of the company where Hunter Biden worked, Shokin wrote.
That account has not stood up to scrutiny. Top officials in the U.S. and Ukraine, as well as independent experts and investigative journalists, have confirmed that Shokin was fired for his alleged corruption, and the investigation of Hunter Biden’s company was dormant at the time.
A parallel track in Giuliani’s efforts has been entrusted to a pair of American lawyers and Fox News regulars, Victoria Toensing and Joe DiGenova, who have worked with Giuliani for years and, according to a recent profile of them in Politico, “enjoy an open line to Trump.” This summer, they went to work for Dmitry Firtash, a Ukrainian tycoon who is wanted in Chicago for alleged corruption. In a legal filing in 2017, the DOJ referred to Firtash as an “upper-echelon associate of Russian organized crime.” He has strongly denied having links to the mafia and is fighting extradition to the U.S. on the bribery charges, which he also denies.
But the Firtash case has become a rich pool of material for Giuliani’s effort to discredit the Mueller investigation. In a legal filing in Vienna in July, lawyers for Firtash claimed that one of Mueller’s top investigators had offered to drop the bribery case against Firtash in exchange for damning testimony on Trump, Toensing and DiGenova tell TIME. “The oligarch,” Giuliani told Fox News on July 22, “basically said, ‘I’m not going to lie to get out of the case.’” (Mueller’s prosecutors have denied ever inappropriately pressuring witnesses to testify against Trump.)
For Trump’s critics, the scariest thing about his efforts to discredit the Mueller probe is the impact it will have on the 2020 election. U.S. intelligence agencies have warned repeatedly that Russia has again set out to influence the vote. “They’re doing it as we sit here,” Mueller told Congress in July.
Trump’s refusal to credit such warnings, and his attempts to cast them as a plot against his presidency, is going to make the Kremlin’s work much easier this time around, says Michael McFaul, a former U.S. ambassador to Moscow. “That is my prediction for what is going to happen in electoral politics in America moving forward,” McFaul tells TIME. Thanks to Trump’s “disinformation campaign,” he says, “Ukraine is going to become the focus of the 2020 elections. And that means Russia is off the hook.”
Edited from: “How Trump’s Obsession With A Conspiracy Theory Led To The Impeachment Crisis”
Time Magazine, 10/3/19
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