Yves here. I can come up with some additional reasons why Team Trump hasn’t seized on Ukrainian evidence of efforts to interfere in the election on behalf of Democrats. First is that it might be dismissed as a desperate “See, everyone does this” while RussiaGate still has some life to it. The story will have more punch when the Russian conspiracy theorizing has died down to whatever its diehard base will prove to be. Second, as Neuburger intimates but does not flat out say, Trump may prefer Biden as a Presidential election opponent. Thus better not to use this intel at all or wait until Biden wins the primary.
Note this isn’t a new story, but it interestingly hasn’t gone away either…
By Thomas Neuburger. Originally published at DownWithTyranny!
Joe and Hunter Biden in 2009 (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
Wheels within wheels. This is from longtime investigative reporter John Solomon, writing in The Hill (emphasis mine throughout):
Ukrainian to US prosecutors: Why don’t you want our evidence on Democrats?
Ukrainian law enforcement officials believe they have evidence of wrongdoing by American Democrats and their allies in Kiev, ranging from 2016 election interference to obstructing criminal probes. But, they say, they’ve been thwarted in trying to get the Trump Justice Department to act.
Kostiantyn Kulyk, deputy head of the Prosecutor General’s International Legal Cooperation Department, told me he and other senior law enforcement officials tried unsuccessfully since last year to get visas from the U.S. embassy in Kiev to deliver their evidence to Washington.
Intrigued? Look at the elements:
- Evidence of foreign interference to help Democrats win the 2016 election
- Democratic Party politicians being protected from investigation by Ukrainian prosecutors
- The Trump administration refusing to act or help
Here is some of what Ukrainian investigators have found. Solomon again:
Ukraine is infamous for corruption and disinformation operations; its police agencies fight over what is considered evidence of wrongdoing. Kulyk and his bosses even have political fights over who should and shouldn’t be prosecuted. Consequently, allegations emanating from Kiev usually are taken with a grain a salt.
But many of the allegations shared with me by more than a half-dozen senior Ukrainian officials are supported by evidence that emerged in recent U.S. court filings and intelligence reports. The Ukrainians told me their evidence includes:
- Sworn statements from two Ukrainian officials admitting that their agency tried to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election in favor of Hillary Clinton. The effort included leaking an alleged ledger showing payments to then-Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort;
- Contacts between Democratic figures in Washington and Ukrainian officials that involved passing along dirt on Donald Trump;
- Financial records showing a Ukrainian natural gas company routed more than $3 million to American accounts tied to Hunter Biden, younger son of then-Vice President Joe Biden, who managed U.S.-Ukrainian relations for the Obama administration. Biden’s son served on the board of a Ukrainian natural gas company, Burisma Holdings;
- Records that Vice President Biden pressured Ukrainian officials in March 2016 to fire the prosecutor who oversaw an investigation of Burisma Holdings and who planned to interview Hunter Biden about the financial transfers;
- Correspondence showing members of the State Department and U.S. embassy in Kiev interfered or applied pressure in criminal cases on Ukrainian soil;
- Disbursements of as much as $7 billion in Ukrainian funds that prosecutors believe may have been misappropriated or taken out of the country, including to the United States.
What should we make of this?
Democrats Getting Foreign Help in 2016?
The first two points above should frighten the “attack on our democracy” crew — looking at you, Adam Schiff, and you, Rachel Maddow — but so far, nothing from that quarter. It seems electoral attacks on our democracy and election matter only when Trump, Russians and Republicans are involved.
Ukraine’s evidence, if true, would mark the first documented allegation of Democrats receiving assistance from a foreign power in their efforts to help Clinton win the 2016 election. … There is public-source information, in Ukraine and in the United States, that gives credence to some of what Ukrainian prosecutors allege.
A court in Ukraine formally concluded that law enforcement officials there illegally tried to intervene in the 2016 U.S. election by leaking documents of Manafort’s business dealings after he was named Trump’s campaign chairman. And a Ukrainian parliamentarian released a purported tape recording of a top Ukrainian law enforcement official bragging that he was responsible for the leak and was trying to help Clinton win.
Solomon notes a 2017 Politico report containing much the same information. One wonders why no one cares.
Joe Biden’s Ukraine Corruption Problem — “Well, son of a bitch, he got fired”
The second two bullets above relate to something I’ve been privately aware of for a while, that Joe Biden has a Ukraine corruption problem and it’s serious.
U.S. banking records show Hunter Biden’s American-based firm, Rosemont Seneca Partners LLC, received regular transfers into one of its accounts — usually more than $166,000 a month — from Burisma from spring 2014 through fall 2015, during a period when Vice President Biden was the main U.S. official dealing with Ukraine and its tense relations with Russia.
The general prosecutor’s official file for the Burisma probe — shared with me by senior Ukrainian officials — shows prosecutors identified Hunter Biden, business partner Devon Archer and their firm, Rosemont Seneca, as potential recipients of money.
Yet in that same report we learn that Joe Biden not only got that prosecutor fired, he bragged about it with the cameras rolling:
In his own words, with video cameras rolling, Biden described how he threatened Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko in March 2016 that the Obama administration would pull $1 billion in U.S. loan guarantees, sending the former Soviet republic toward insolvency, if it didn’t immediately fire Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin.
“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 recalled telling Poroshenko.
“Well, son of a bitch, he got fired. And they put in place someone who was solid at the time,” Biden told the Council on Foreign Relations event, insisting that President Obama was in on the threat.
Which led Solomon to ask these questions:
Nonetheless, some hard questions should be answered by Biden as he prepares, potentially, to run for president in 2020: Was it appropriate for your son and his firm to cash in on Ukraine while you served as point man for Ukraine policy? What work was performed for the money Hunter Biden’s firm received? Did you know about the Burisma probe? And when it was publicly announced that your son worked for Burisma, should you have recused yourself from leveraging a U.S. policy to pressure the prosecutor who very publicly pursued Burisma?
Joe Biden’s Ukraine corruption problem is not just a recent one. The underlying story of how Hunter Biden and his company, Rosemont Seneca Partners, got involved with Burisma in the first place also raises questions:
Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden may have leveraged the  Maidan coup and war in East Ukraine to strike lucrative oil fracking deals in East Ukraine, along with a John Kerry family friend.
Limassol, Cyprus based energy firm Burisma Holdings, collected large energy contracts in the East of Ukraine, with Hunter Biden, Devon Archer and oligarch Ihor Kolomoyskyi, closely tied to the energy production company, which pushed for fracking exploration on land owned by East Ukrainian residents.
Will anyone who matters in the U.S. talk about it?
Why Does Trump’s DOJ Not Care?
The last puzzle — after the alleged Ukrainian interference “in our democracy” on behalf of the Clinton campaign, and the Biden corruption allegations — is the lack of response by the Trump Department of Justice. As Solomon’s story details, it’s not like Ukrainian prosecutors haven’t tried to raise the alarm. Yet so far nothing from the Trump administration. Ukrainian prosecutors are still being denied visas to visit the U.S. so they can present their case to U.S. prosecutors.
There’s not enough evidence to show why there’s been no action on these charges, and, of course, action might still be forthcoming. But we can look at what the effect of burying this story and any potential prosecution might be by looking at who benefits.
1. Burying this story and preventing prosecution benefits Joe Biden. A corruption prosecution of his son Hunter in either the U.S. or Ukraine, plus the knowledge that Biden used his position as vice-president to protect his son, might well be the finishing blow to his still-not-announced 2020 candidacy.
2. Burying this story benefits mainstream Democrats generally, not just Joe Biden. Note that Biden said that Obama was in on the plan to blackmail Ukrainian officials to fire the prosecutor. The benefit to Obama’s thus-far untarnished reputation would be undeniable.
In addition, if indeed Joe Biden is the shining knight on which the Party, like a lady in distress, have pinned their ribbons and hopes, his fall could mark the end of those hopes. What do mainstream Democrats hope for from Biden? The defeat of Bernie Sanders in the primary, or anyone like him.
3. In an odd way, burying the story benefits Donald Trump as well. If 2020 will truly be another “change year” for the electorate, whom would Trump rather run against — an old school, been-around-too-long mainstream Party regular (with baggage), or a genuine change candidate like Bernie Sanders, a man whose crowds rival and surpass Trump’s own?
It’s speculative, of course, to assess motives at this point, but the benefits to those listed are obvious and easy to divine.
However this story develops, stay tuned. We’ll learn a lot if it breaks into the mainstream. We’ll also learn a lot if it doesn’t.