As more information trickles into the mainstream press regarding Burisma, the natural gas company Hunter Biden worked for, the latest refrain has become “the Ukrainian prosecutor Vice President Joe Biden wanted fired was not investigating Biden’s son” when he was investigating Burisma.
But this misses the very point of the allegations being lodged at Joe and Hunter Biden. Just because Hunter wasn’t at Burisma at the time of the alleged corruption does not mean that Hunter could not have played a role in shielding the company from later allegations. He was receiving over $50,000 per month to sit on Burisma’s board, despite zero experience in the industry.
Last week, the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine (NABU) revealed that Mykola Zlochevsky, the Ukrainian gas tycoon at the center of the Hunter Biden debacle, was being investigated only for activity spanning from 2010 to 2012, when he was the minister of ecology. Zlochevsky founded Burisma in 2002 and later went on to work in the Ukrainian government. It is alleged that when he was minister of ecology, special permits were issued “for the use of mineral resources to enterprises founded by Burisma Limited.”
Several journalists have seized on this timeline as exculpatory of any wrongdoing from the Bidens, given Hunter did not join the board of Burisma until mid-2014. For instance, Jonathan Landay of Reuters tweeted out proudly, “Changes to the board of Burisma Limited, which are currently the object of international attention, took place only in May 2014, and therefore are not and NEVER were the subject of (the anti-corruption bureau’s) investigation,’ the bureau’s statement said. (My capitalization).”
But what these journalists seem to be missing is that the basis for accusations of corruption was not merely that Joe Biden got the prosecutor fired to shield his son’s behavior at Burisma from prosecution. Indeed, the timeline presented by NABU makes that allegation impossible to square away. But the allegation that has been routinely hinted at is the possibility that Zlochevsky hired Hunter Biden after the allegations surfaced in order to evade charges in the hopes that Hunter might use his influence to persuade his dad to push for the firing of the prosecutor, Viktor Shokin.
Still, there’s another possibility, one that doesn’t involve persuasion from Hunter but more a tacit understanding with Joe Biden. Hunter Biden was collecting upwards of $50,000 per month for his role at Burisma with zero prior experience in the energy sector. It’s not out of the realm to wonder whether (1) Joe Biden knew the details of his son’s latest gig and salary and (2) whether Joe regarded the last name “Biden” as an important part of his son securing that role.
As The New York Times reported, Hunter’s presence on the board was seen in the Ukraine as a way to cement the company’s Western pivot: “Their [Hunter Biden and others’] 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.”
Thus, as journalists begin parroting the timeline as “proof” that Joe Biden’s role in pressuring Ukrain to fire Shokin was entirely divorced from Hunter’s role at Burisma, consider the possibility that Hunter’s role could have been more about shielding Burisma as a whole from allegations.
While journalists feign consternation and disgust at the fact that President Trump would dare to express an interest in investigating these matters, remember that there are questions that deserve to be answered here. Indeed, the timeline isn’t exculpatory. And celebrating it as such is just more evidence of the media moving goalposts.