Media Downplay an Unfolding Biden-Ukraine Scandal
The sketchy story about Joe Biden's involvement into Ukrainian politics during the times when he oversaw the Obama administration effort in fighting Ukrainian endemic corruption is rapidly developing into something ugly. Two interesting twists of the story were recently revealed. First, it turned out that then–U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch lied to Congress in her testimony during the impeachment inquiry last year that she had had little knowledge about Burisma Holdings in the fall of 2016, when she started her position. But the State Department emails published on May 13 clearly demonstrate that she was involved in discussions about the natural gas firm Burisma Holdings during the 2016 election and transition to settle a long-running corruption investigation and polish its image before President Trump took office and even had a meeting with a company representative. Yovanovitch, for instance, was specifically warned in an email by her top deputy in September 2016 that Burisma had hired an American firm with deep Democratic connections called Blue Star Strategies to "rehabilitate the reputation" of the firm and that it had placed "Hunter Biden on its board."
Republicans lawmakers were swift to take action: on May 14, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), the ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee, sent a letter to secretary of state Mike Pompeo asking for documents related to Burisma and Biden's ties to the company. The letter additionally asked for all documents and communications related to Christopher Heinz, the son of former secretary of state John Kerry, and American businessman Devon Archer, who were both longtime business partners of Hunter Biden. Jordan accused Biden, Heinz, and Archer of being a "part of a broad effort by Burisma to bring in well-connect[ed] Democrats during a period when the company was facing investigations backed not just by domestic Ukrainian forces but by officials in the Obama Administration."
Then, on May 19, the Ukrainian side added insult to injury when an independent member of the Ukrainian Parliament, Andrey Derkach, released audio records of the phone calls between ex-president of Ukraine, Petro Poroshenko, and Vice President Joe Biden, as well as secretary of state John Kerry, who discussed the course of Ukrainian domestic policy in precise detail. One of the main topics of the conversations was the removal from office of the Ukrainian prosecutor general Viktor Shokin, which was a key precondition of landing Ukraine $1 billion. At that time, Shokin was investigating Burisma's corruption and money-laundering. According to Mr. Shokin himself, he believed that the "investigations stopped out of fear of the United States." It is also noted that Shokin was told Biden had held up U.S. aid to Ukraine over the investigation into Mykola Zlochevsky, the former minister of ecology and natural resources of Ukraine — and also the founder of Burisma. Shokin claimed that Zlochevsky appointed Hunter Biden to the board of the firm "in order to protect himself."
On May 20, Senate Republicans issued their first subpoena in the Biden-Burisma probe. The Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee voted along party lines, asking for records from the Blue Star Strategies (mentioned in Yovanovitch's emails) from January 1, 2013 to the present "related to work for or on behalf of Burisma Holdings or individuals associated with Burisma."
Despite the mounting evidence of the corruption and abuse of power by Joe Biden and high-ranking Obama administration officials, even the tiniest speck of which would cause fierce shrieks all over the news were it done by Trump, elitist media frowned at the developing story, as they did in 2019, when we were told by Bloomberg, for example, that there's nothing much for U.S. voters to see in the Burisma case because it's too convoluted and buried under too many layers of Ukrainian political and business relationships to yield any useful conclusions about Biden's character. Duh, it's too complicated, folks — after all, Joe just tried his best to fight corruption. It ain't his fault those weird Ukrainians have so many groups of influence and interests. We are not smart enough to grasp it. Let's move on.
Today, the leftist media do everything to twist and downplay that oh, so inconvenient story. Surely, they understand that it may turn into a deadly blow for both Biden and the whole Democratic Party right on the eve of November elections which already promise to be challenging for the Democrats. After all, it is Trump beating Joe like a drum in 15 battleground states. Despite the media predicting "the end of Trump" for the last four years, he looks much more alive than Biden in both political and biological senses.
So what are the media trying to do to the story? They are diverting our attention from the key question — "What did Bidens do in Ukraine?" — to the secondary ones. In the case of questions like "Who leaked Biden's calls to Ukraine?," their answer is obvious: Russians did. "Recordings of Biden's calls with Ukraine's former president were held on a classified system. Ukrainian sources are wondering whether it was an inside job or Russian hackers." Ah, but no, Ukrainians are not wondering who hacked their security system; they are digging directly to the core and starting an investigation into the former president, Poroshenko, because his actions "might be perceived, qualified as high treason," as President Volodymyr Zelensky stated.
The Biden campaign also viewed the release of the tapes as a continuation of a longstanding Russian effort to hurt the former vice president, pointing to the role that RT, the Russian state-controlled news network, played in promoting the tapes and noting Derkach's ties to Russian interests. "They heavily edited this, and it's still a nothingburger that landed with a thud," Biden spokesman Andrew Bates said. We've heard about "doctored" records before, haven't we?
In the article "Ukrainian lawmaker releases leaked phone calls of Biden and Poroshenko," the Washington Post dedicated the opening paragraphs to the "Russian ties" of Andrey Derkach, noting even that "[h]is father served as a KGB officer for decades before becoming head of independent Ukraine's intelligence service in the late 1990s ... [and] fired from that post amid a scandal over a Ukrainian journalist who was kidnapped and murdered." Let's leave it to the WaPo to decide whether sons bear the sins of their fathers, but it appears that one father worked hard to hide the sins of his son, and it's becoming more evident.
The Russian scarecrow is being taken out of the Democratic attic (or basement?) yet again, and the plotline that accompanies it is painfully familiar: Kremlin tries to boost its agent/friend/puppet Trump and prevent a "true American patriot" Biden from the office. Thus, it is a duty of every American not to let it happen — ignore the leaked records and vote for Biden.
Surely, the records don't present us with a "smoking gun" — Biden does not specify his personal interest in firing Shokin. But if the released tapes are only the "tip of the iceberg," the question is, how many Democratic voters would still believe in a Russian boogeyman if the iceberg continues to emerge to the point when Joe Biden's campaign can't maneuver around it any longer?
Veronika Kyrylenko, Ph.D. research associate at GeoStrategic Analysis (Arlington, VA). @KyrylenkoN on Twitter.