Joe Biden famously bragged that while vice president, he forced the firing of Ukraine’s prosecutor general, Viktor Shokin, by threatening to withhold $1 billion in U.S. government aid from the financially strapped European country. Biden’s boast, however, now threatens his presidency because overwhelming evidence indicates the Ukrainian energy company, Burisma, paid Hunter Biden millions to have his father deal with Shokin.
In response to this most serious of scandals, Biden and his Democrat and media backers are pushing the most ridiculous of narratives: Biden didn’t want Shokin fired for investigating Burisma, but for not investigating Burisma. Then-Vice President Biden was only executing American policy — a policy supported by our allies, you see? So neither Joe nor Hunter Biden did anything wrong, the party line goes.
The Washington Post’s Glenn Kessler has championed this syllogism since December 2019, but in his mid-July 2023 article “Here We Go Again: An Explosive Hunter Biden Laptop Email Needs Context,” the self-branded “fact” “checker” refreshed these talking points to dismiss the significance of a Nov. 2, 2015, email thread identified by congressional Republicans as further evidence of Biden family corruption.
That thread began with an email from Burisma executive Vadym Pozharskyi to Hunter Biden, fellow Burisma board member Devon Archer, and Biden’s Rosemont Seneca business partner Eric Schwerin, discussing a proposal from the lobbying firm Blue Star Strategies. In that email, the Burisma executive complained the Blue Star proposal failed to identify the “concrete tangible results that we set out to achieve in the first place,” and also “doesn’t offer any names of top US officials” or “Ukrainian officials (the President of Ukraine, chief of staff, Prosecutor General) as key targets for improving Nikolay’s case and his situation in Ukraine,” Nikolay being the nickname of Burisma’s founder and then-president Mykola Zlochevsky.
“If, however, this is done deliberately to be on the safe and cautious side,” Pozharskyi continued, “I can understand the rationale.” The Burisma executive then stressed that if the parties all understood the true purpose of the Blue Star engagement “and all our joint efforts,” they should proceed immediately. Pozharskyi reiterated his “only concern” was that they were on the “same page re our final goals,” with the Burisma executive confirming that the “the ultimate purpose” was “to close down” “any cases/pursuits against Nikolay in Ukraine.”
Hunter Biden’s business partner replied to the son of the now-president, saying, “I would tell Vadym that this is definitely done deliberately to the be on the safe and cautious side,” and that Blue Star “understand[s] the scope and deliverables.”
The Washington Post “fact checker” acknowledged this email “exchange took place about one month before then-Vice President Joe Biden traveled to Ukraine with the express purpose of seeking the removal of the country’s top prosecutor.” Kessler nonetheless concluded the emails failed to implicate the Bidens in corruption because, according to The Washington Post scribe, “documents and interviews” showed Shokin had failed to act against Burisma, which was “the reason the United States, sought his removal in the first place.” And pushing for Shokin’s removal, Kessler stressed, was “U.S. policy” that Biden merely executed.
Kessler’s current spin mirrors that he and other Biden apologists pushed when then-President Donald Trump went public with accusations that Biden, while vice president, forced the Ukrainian government to fire Shokin because the prosecutor was investigating Burisma. Legacy media disregarded Trump’s December 2019 allegations, however, reporting instead that “the investigation of Zlochevsky was largely dormant at the time of Biden’s threat.”
The press likewise amplified claims made by a former foreign policy adviser of Biden’s, Mike Carpenter, who maintained, “Shokin played the role of protecting the vested interest in the Ukrainian system.” Of the fired Ukrainian prosecutor, Carpenter reportedly said, “He never went after any corrupt individuals at all, never prosecuted any high-profile cases of corruption.”
Carpenter’s claims that Shokin “never went after any corrupt individuals at all,” doesn’t square with even The Washington Post’s reporting that under Shokin in February 2016, Ukraine had reinstated a court order to seize Zlochevsky’s personal property, including a mansion, a luxury car, and plots of land. But while the Post attempts to explain away the renewed court order against Zlochevsky, the legacy outlet missed the larger — and conclusive — point: Burisma’s founder, Zlochevsky, and its top executive, Pozharskyi, feared Shokin and his investigation.
The evidence on this point is overwhelming and comes firsthand from Burisma executive Pozharskyi, whose November 2015 email to Hunter Biden and his colleagues spoke of Burisma’s “ultimate purpose” being “to close down” “any cases/pursuits against Nikolay in Ukraine.” Hunter Biden’s business partner and fellow Burisma board member Devon Archer has similarly testified in a closed-door session of the House Oversight Committee that in December 2015, Zlochevsky and Pozharskyi “placed constant pressure” on Hunter Biden to get help from D.C. regarding the Ukrainian investigation. In response to such pressure, according to Archer’s testimony, Hunter Biden called his then-vice president father with Zlochevsky and Pozharskyi in tow.
The recently released FD-1023 memorandum summarizing a “highly credible” confidential human source’s (CHS) reporting provides further corroboration that Shokin was investigating Burisma — or, at a minimum, Burisma executives believed he was. According to that longtime CHS, in discussing Burisma’s desire to purchase an American oil and gas business, the CHS “told Zlochevsky that due to Shokin’s investigation into Burisma, which was made public at this time, it would have a substantial negative impact on Burisma’s prospective [for an Initial Public Offering] in the United States.” According to the CHS, Zlochevsky replied, “something to the effect of, ‘Don’t worry Hunter will take care of all of those issues through his dad.’”
It is unbelievable that Burisma would speak of being under investigation by Shokin and would “place constant pressure” on Hunter Biden to get help from D.C. unless Shokin were investigating the Ukrainian energy company. It is plain silly for The Washington Post to pretend the evidence establishes that Shokin was not investigating Burisma.
The second defense proffered by The Washington Post and Biden’s other apologists, however, moves them from silly to laughingstocks. It’s that the millions of dollars Burisma allegedly paid to Hunter Biden were not illegal because the then-vice president was merely executing American policy.
Initially, it is unknown how much of the “Shokin must be fired” policy originated from then-Vice President Joe Biden. But even if Joe Biden had nothing to do with formulating the policy — something unlikely given his position as the point person on Ukraine — that merely means Burisma paid Hunter Biden (and Joe Biden if the CHS’s reporting is accurate) for something the United States would have done without millions showered on the son of the now-president.
That doesn’t exonerate Hunter Biden or Joe Biden: It merely means they sold the illusion that Joe Biden had forced Shokin’s firing for Burisma as promised.