[Marxism] Biden Faces Conflict of Interest Questions That Are Being Promoted by Trump and Allies

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Thu May 2 07:59:15 MDT 2019


(Stephen F. Cohen, Roger Annis et al believe that Obama fomented a New 
Cold War against Putin, with the first battle focused on the removal of 
Yanukovych in Ukraine. But Joe Biden was bent on helping out his son who 
was making $50,000 a month on the board of a gas company aligned with 
the Yanukovych wing of the oligarchy. Ukraine has NEVER been about 
ideology. It is about dirty money, not that much different from a 
"Sopranos" episode on HBO.)


NY Times, May 2, 2019
Biden Faces Conflict of Interest Questions That Are Being Promoted by 
Trump and Allies
By Kenneth P. Vogel and Iuliia Mendel

WASHINGTON — It was a foreign policy role Joseph R. Biden Jr. 
enthusiastically embraced during his vice presidency: browbeating 
Ukraine’s notoriously corrupt government to clean up its act. And one of 
his most memorable performances came on a trip to Kiev in March 2016, 
when he threatened to withhold $1 billion in United States loan 
guarantees if Ukraine’s leaders did not dismiss the country’s top 
prosecutor, who had been accused of turning a blind eye to corruption in 
his own office and among the political elite.

The pressure campaign worked. The prosecutor general, long a target of 
criticism from other Western nations and international lenders, was soon 
voted out by the Ukrainian Parliament.

Among those who had a stake in the outcome was Hunter Biden, Mr. Biden’s 
younger son, who at the time was on the board of an energy company owned 
by a Ukrainian oligarch who had been in the sights of the fired 
prosecutor general.

Hunter Biden was a Yale-educated lawyer who had served on the boards of 
Amtrak and a number of nonprofit organizations and think tanks, but 
lacked any experience in Ukraine and just months earlier had been 
discharged from the Navy Reserve after testing positive for cocaine. He 
would be paid as much as $50,000 per month in some months for his work 
for the company, Burisma Holdings.

The broad outlines of how the Bidens’ roles intersected in Ukraine have 
been known for some time. The former vice president’s campaign said that 
he had always acted to carry out United States policy without regard to 
any activities of his son, that he had never discussed the matter with 
Hunter Biden and that he learned of his son’s role with the Ukrainian 
energy company from news reports.

But new details about Hunter Biden’s involvement, and a decision this 
year by the current Ukrainian prosecutor general to reverse himself and 
reopen an investigation into Burisma, have pushed the issue back into 
the spotlight just as the senior Mr. Biden is beginning his 2020 
presidential campaign.

They show how Hunter Biden and his American business partners were part 
of a broad effort by Burisma to bring in well-connected Democrats during 
a period when the company was facing investigations backed not just by 
domestic Ukrainian forces but by officials in the Obama administration. 
Hunter Biden’s work for Burisma prompted concerns among State Department 
officials at the time that the connection could complicate Vice 
President Biden’s diplomacy in Ukraine, former officials said.

“I have had no role whatsoever in relation to any investigation of 
Burisma, or any of its officers,” Hunter Biden said Wednesday in a 
statement. “I explicitly limited my role to focus on corporate 
governance best practices to facilitate Burisma’s desire to expand 
globally.”

Hunter Biden, who left Burisma’s board last month, was one of many 
politically prominent Americans of both major parties who made money in 
Ukraine over the last decade. In several cases — most notably that of 
Paul Manafort, President Trump’s former campaign chairman — that 
business came under criminal investigation that exposed a seedy side of 
the lucrative Western consulting industry in Ukraine.

Mr. Zlochevsky had served in the government of the former Ukrainian 
president Viktor F. Yanukovych.

He fled the country not long after the collapse of Mr. Yanukovych’s 
government in 2014, and the Ukrainian prosecutor general’s office opened 
multiple investigations into him and his businesses.

Mr. Shokin’s office had oversight of investigations into Mr. Zlochevsky 
and his businesses, including Burisma.

Some in the Obama administration supported the investigations, but 
worried Mr. Shokin was not pursuing them. He was accused of turning a 
blind eye to corruption in his office and among the political elite.

In March 2016, Mr. Biden issued an ultimatum to Ukraine’s Parliament to 
dismiss Mr. Shokin, or the United States would withhold $1 billion in 
loan guarantees. Mr. Shokin was voted out by Parliament.

No evidence has surfaced that the former vice president intentionally 
tried to benefit his son.

Mr. Lutsenko initially continued investigating Mr. Zlochevsky and 
Burisma, but cleared him of all charges within 10 months of taking office.

The prosecutor general reversed himself and reopened an investigation 
into Burisma this year. Some see his decision as an effort to curry 
favor with the Trump administration.

Mr. Giuliani has spearheaded the effort among conservatives to publicize 
and encourage the new investigation in Ukraine.

Mr. Giuliani said he got involved because he was seeking to counter the 
Mueller investigation with evidence that Democrats had conspired with 
sympathetic Ukrainians to help initiate what became the special 
counsel’s inquiry.

But the renewed scrutiny of Hunter Biden’s experience in Ukraine has 
also been fanned by allies of Mr. Trump. They have been eager to 
publicize and even encourage the investigation, as well as other 
Ukrainian inquiries that serve Mr. Trump’s political ends, underscoring 
the Trump campaign’s concern about the electoral threat from the former 
vice president’s presidential campaign.

The Trump team’s efforts to draw attention to the Bidens’ work in 
Ukraine, which is already yielding coverage in conservative media, has 
been led partly by Rudolph W. Giuliani, who served as a lawyer for Mr. 
Trump in the investigation by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller 
III. Mr. Giuliani’s involvement raises questions about whether Mr. Trump 
is endorsing an effort to push a foreign government to proceed with a 
case that could hurt a political opponent at home.

Mr. Giuliani has discussed the Burisma investigation, and its 
intersection with the Bidens, with the ousted Ukrainian prosecutor 
general and the current prosecutor. He met with the current prosecutor 
multiple times in New York this year. The current prosecutor general 
later told associates that, during one of the meetings, Mr. Giuliani 
called Mr. Trump excitedly to brief him on his findings, according to 
people familiar with the conversations.

Mr. Giuliani declined to comment on any such phone call with Mr. Trump, 
but acknowledged that he has discussed the matter with the president on 
multiple occasions. Mr. Trump, in turn, recently suggested he would like 
Attorney General William P. Barr to look into the material gathered by 
the Ukrainian prosecutors — echoing repeated calls from Mr. Giuliani for 
the Justice Department to investigate the Bidens’ Ukrainian work and 
other connections between Ukraine and the United States.

Mr. Giuliani said he got involved because he was seeking to counter the 
Mueller investigation with evidence that Democrats conspired with 
sympathetic Ukrainians to help initiate what became the special 
counsel’s inquiry.

“I can assure you this all started with an allegation about possible 
Ukrainian involvement in the investigation of Russian meddling, and not 
Biden,” Mr. Giuliani said. “The Biden piece is collateral to the bigger 
story, but must still be investigated, but without the prejudgments that 
infected the collusion story.”

The decision to reopen the investigation into Burisma was made in March 
by the current Ukrainian prosecutor general, who had cleared Hunter 
Biden’s employer more than two years ago. The announcement came in the 
midst of Ukraine’s contentious presidential election, and was seen in 
some quarters as an effort by the prosecutor general, Yuriy Lutsenko, to 
curry favor from the Trump administration for his boss and ally, the 
incumbent president, Petro O. Poroshenko.

Mr. Poroshenko lost his re-election bid in a landslide last month. While 
the incoming president, Volodymyr Zelensky, has said he will replace Mr. 
Lutsenko as prosecutor general, Mr. Zelensky has not said whether the 
prosecutors he appoints will be asked to continue the investigation.

Kostiantyn H. Kulyk, a deputy for Mr. Lutsenko who was handling the 
cases before being reassigned last month, told The New York Times that 
he was scrutinizing millions of dollars of payments from Burisma to the 
firm that paid Hunter Biden.

No evidence has surfaced that the former vice president intentionally 
tried to help his son by pressing for the prosecutor general’s 
dismissal. Some of his former associates, moreover, said Mr. Biden never 
did anything to deter other Obama administration officials who were 
pushing for the United States to support criminal investigations by 
Ukrainian and British authorities — and potentially to start its own 
investigation — into Burisma and its owner, Mykola Zlochevsky, for 
possible money laundering and abuse of office.


The Biden campaign cast the revival of the Ukrainian investigation as 
politically motivated and pointed to the involvement of Mr. Giuliani to 
question the motives behind the new scrutiny.

Kate Bedingfield, a Biden campaign spokeswoman, said the former vice 
president’s 2016 push to oust the former prosecutor general, Viktor 
Shokin, was undertaken “without any regard for how it would or would not 
impact any business interests of his son, a private citizen.”

The effort, she added, was consistent with “the United States’ foreign 
policy to root out corruption in Ukraine” and was backed by the United 
States government, allies and multilateral institutions, including the 
International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.

The younger Mr. Biden said in the statement, “At no time have I 
discussed with my father the company’s business, or my board service, 
including my initial decision to join the board.”

Mr. Lutsenko denied any political motivation in reopening the case.

Hunter Biden, 49, is the middle of three children his father had with 
his first wife, Neilia Biden. She and the youngest child died in an 
automobile crash in 1972. Hunter and his older brother, Beau, survived 
the crash, and Beau Biden went on to a career in public service. Beau 
Biden died from brain cancer in 2015 at age 46.

After graduating from Yale Law School, Hunter Biden took on a number of 
roles that intersected with his father’s political career, including 
working with a Delaware-based credit card issuer, working at the 
Commerce Department under President Bill Clinton and working as a 
lobbyist on behalf of various universities, associations and companies.

When his father was selected as Barack Obama’s running mate in 2008, 
Hunter Biden terminated his lobbying registrations, which at the time 
included a company that had lobbied the staff of the Senate Judiciary 
Committee, on which his father had served, about online gambling issues.

Months after his father became vice president, Mr. Biden joined with 
Christopher Heinz, the stepson of John Kerry, then a senator, and Devon 
Archer, a Kerry family friend, to create a network of investment and 
consulting firms with variations of the name Rosemont Seneca. Mr. Kerry 
would go on to become secretary of state.

Mr. Biden and Mr. Archer pursued business with international entities 
that had a stake in American foreign policy decisions, sometimes in 
countries where connections implied political influence and protection.

Among the companies they did work for was Burisma, a natural gas company 
owned by Mr. Zlochevsky. Mr. Zlochevsky had served nearly four years in 
the government of the former Ukrainian president Viktor F. Yanukovych, 
who stepped down in early 2014 and fled amid mass street protests.

In the months after the collapse of Mr. Yanukovych’s government, Mr. 
Zlochevsky also fled the country as Ukrainian prosecutors opened 
multiple investigations into him and his businesses. Britain’s Serious 
Fraud Office froze London accounts linked to Mr. Zlochevsky containing 
$23 million, declaring it was connected to money laundering and 
Yanukovych-era corruption. (The British prosecution later collapsed 
because of what American officials said was a lack of cooperation from 
the office of the Ukrainian prosecutor general who preceded Mr. Shokin.)

When Mr. Shokin became prosecutor general in February 2015, he inherited 
several investigations into the company and Mr. Zlochevsky, including 
for suspicion of tax evasion and money laundering. Mr. Shokin also 
opened an investigation into the granting of lucrative gas licenses to 
companies owned by Mr. Zlochevsky when he was the head of the Ukrainian 
Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources. Mr. Zlochevsky and Burisma 
have always vigorously disputed the accusations against them.

Views about the role of the Bidens in the matter depend to some degree 
on questions about Mr. Shokin’s motives. Among both Ukrainian and 
American officials, there is considerable debate about whether Mr. 
Shokin was intent on pursuing a legitimate inquiry into Burisma or 
whether he was merely using the threat of prosecution to solicit a 
bribe, as Mr. Zlochevsky’s defenders assert.

Concerns about Mr. Shokin notwithstanding, the cases against Burisma had 
high-level support from the Obama administration. In April 2014, it sent 
top officials to a forum on Ukrainian asset recovery, co-sponsored by 
the United States government, in London, where Mr. Zlochevsky’s case was 
highlighted.

Early that year, Mr. Archer, the Kerry family friend, and Hunter Biden 
were part of a wave of Americans who would come from across the Atlantic 
to help Burisma both with its substantive legal issues and its image. 
Their support allowed Burisma to create the perception that it was 
backed by powerful Americans at a time when Ukraine was especially 
dependent on aid and strategic backing from the United States and its 
allies, according to people who worked in Ukraine at the time.

First, Mr. Archer joined Burisma’s board. Around the same time, the 
company started paying the New York law firm Boies Schiller Flexner, 
where Hunter Biden was working.

The firm, which Mr. Biden left at the end of 2017, declined to describe 
the nature of Boies Schiller’s work for Burisma. But previously 
unreported financial data from the Ukrainian prosecutor general’s office 
show the company paid $283,000 to Boies Schiller for legal services in 2014.

Soon after Mr. Archer joined Burisma’s board, Hunter Biden followed, 
despite being warned by associates who had experience in Ukraine to stay 
away from Mr. Zlochevsky, according to a person familiar with the 
conversations.

A news release from the company said Hunter Biden would “be in charge of 
the holdings’ legal unit and will provide support for the company among 
international organizations.” Mr. Biden said the news release 
mischaracterized his role with Burisma. “At no time was I in charge of 
the company’s legal affairs,” he said.

Among the Americans brought in by Hunter Biden’s American business 
partners to help fend off the investigations was Blue Star Strategies, a 
consulting firm run by Clinton administration veterans that had done 
substantial work in Ukraine.

A team from Blue Star, and an American lawyer Blue Star hired, John D. 
Buretta, who had served as a senior official in the Obama Justice 
Department, held two previously unreported meetings in Kiev, Ukraine’s 
capital, with Mr. Lutsenko, who took office in May 2016 after Mr. 
Shokin’s dismissal, according to people with direct knowledge of the 
meetings. Mr. Lutsenko denied attending the meeting.

Mr. Lutsenko initially took a hard line against Burisma. But within 10 
months after he took office, Burisma announced that Mr. Lutsenko and the 
courts had “fully closed” all “legal proceedings and pending criminal 
allegations” against Mr. Zlochevsky and his companies, and that the 
oligarch had been removed by a Ukrainian court from “the wanted list.” 
Mr. Zlochevsky returned to the country.

Hunter Biden’s work in Ukraine appears to have been well compensated. 
Burisma paid $3.4 million to a company called Rosemont Seneca Bohai LLC 
from mid-April 2014, when Hunter Biden and Mr. Archer joined the board, 
to late 2015, according to the financial data provided by the Ukrainian 
deputy prosecutor. The payments continued after that, according to 
people familiar with the arrangement.

Rosemont Seneca Bohai was controlled by Mr. Archer, who left Burisma’s 
board after he was charged in connection with a scheme to defraud 
pension funds and an Indian tribe of tens of millions of dollars. Bank 
records submitted in that case — which resulted in a conviction for Mr. 
Archer that was overturned in November — show that Rosemont Seneca Bohai 
made regular payments to Mr. Biden that totaled as much as $50,000 in 
some months.

Amos J. Hochstein, who worked with Vice President Biden on Ukraine 
issues as the State Department’s coordinator for international energy 
affairs, said the Obama administration’s support for prosecuting Mr. 
Zlochevsky contradicts any implication that the elder Mr. Biden was 
seeking to oust Mr. Shokin in order to protect his son or Mr. Zlochevsky.

“I was in almost every single meeting that Vice President Biden had with 
President Poroshenko, I was on every trip, and I was on most of the 
phone calls, and there was never a discussion about his son, or 
Burisma,” Mr. Hochstein said. “None of these issues ever came up.”

On Wednesday, Hunter Biden said in his statement that his term as a 
director had expired and that he was stepping down from Burisma’s board 
in a political climate “where my qualifications and work are being 
attacked by Rudy Giuliani and his minions for transparent political 
purposes.”

Kenneth P. Vogel reported from Washington, and Iuliia Mendel reported 
from Kiev, Ukraine.



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