As reported — surprisingly enough — by the Washington Post:
A career State Department official overseeing Ukraine policy told congressional investigators this week that he had raised concerns in early 2015 about then-Vice President Joe Biden’s son serving on the board of a Ukrainian energy company but was turned away by a Biden staffer, according to three people familiar with the testimony.
The official, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State George Kent, testified earlier this week before a closed congressional hearing that he was worried Hunter Biden’s position as a board member at Burisma Holdings, an energy firm that was under investigation for corruption, “would complicate efforts by U.S. diplomats to convey to Ukrainian officials the importance of avoiding conflicts of interest,” the Post said.
The report was based on information provided to the Post on the condition of anonymity, so there’s that. But the fact that the sources named a specific State Department official — Kent — lends some credence to their claims and the Post’s story.
Kent told investigators that he was concerned the Ukrainian government and Burisma would use Hunter Biden to influence Obama administration policy via his dad, Vice President Joe Biden, the sources said. However, after Kent raised his concerns with Joe Biden’s office, he was told the VP didn’t have the “bandwidth” to deal with it because he was already dealing with another son, Beau, who had been diagnosed with cancer (Beau died of brain cancer in May 2015).
Not to be callous of the Biden family’s loss, but by that date, Joe Biden and Hunter Biden were already well into business and geopolitical dealings with Ukraine — so the excuse that the vice president didn’t have the attention span to deal with concerns about the appearance of impropriety, while still dealing with the other trappings of his office, sounds like an excuse.
The Post previously reported that there had already been talks among the VP’s advisers about whether Hunter’s work for Burisma, which was paying him very handsomely ($50,000 a month or as much as $167,000 per month, depending on the media source), would be perceived as having been a gigantic conflict of interest.
There is also some concern that Biden might have broken U.S. law when he threatened to withhold $1 billion in loan guarantees from Ukraine unless that government fired a prosecutor who was looking into corruption surrounding Burisma while Hunter worked for the company.
As One America News notes, the law in question dates back to 1977 — the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. Under that statute, a U.S. government official is forbidden from helping or intervening to influence a foreign official “in order to assist in obtaining or retaining business, for, with or to any person.”
Biden admitted threatening Ukraine during an event last year sponsored by the Council on Foreign Relations. As NewsTarget reported in April.
“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,’” Biden says he told then-Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko.
“Well, son of a bitch, he got fired. And they put in place someone who was solid at the time” — diplomatic speak for ‘someone the Obama administration favored.’
Like so much of what both Bidens have said about their involvement in Ukraine, the excuse that the former VP was too distracted by his son’s untimely death to deal with a potentially corrupt arrangement involving another son just doesn’t ring true.