Throughout Joe Biden’s tenure as vice president, his son Hunter made lucrative business deals in countries where Joe Biden was the Obama administration’s point person. Former President Donald Trump rightly raised questions about this scandal, but it seems that one aspect of the scandal was based on a lie.
Joe Biden’s remarks at the Council on Foreign Relations in 2018 suggested that the vice president may have pressured Ukraine to fire a prosecutor who was ostensibly investigating Burisma, a corrupt Ukrainian gas company that had been paying Hunter Biden $83,333 per month to serve on the board. Newly-released emails show that Hunter introduced at least one Burisma executive to his father.
Many — including yours truly and other writers at PJ Media — have suggested that Joe Biden was protecting Hunter Biden by pressuring Ukraine to fire the prosecutor, Viktor Shokin. Yet it seems we all got taken in by a notorious fabulist — Joe Biden himself.
Biden bragged about getting Shokin fired.
“They were walking out to a press conference. I said, nah, … we’re not going to give you the billion dollars.They said, ‘You have no authority. You’re not the president—the president said’ … I said, ‘Call him.’ I said, ‘I’m telling you, you’re not getting the billion dollars.’ I said, you’re not getting the billion,” Biden said in 2018.
“I looked at them and said, ‘I’m leaving in six hours. If the prosecutor is not fired, you’re not getting the money.’ Well, son of a b—-. He got fired. And they put in place someone who was solid at the time,” Biden said.
Joe Biden brags about how he threatened to pull $1 billion in loan guarantees from Ukraine if it didn’t immediately fire Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin.
The prosecutor, who was fired, was leading a corruption investigation into a company that employed Biden's son, Hunter pic.twitter.com/xZd3vIMbuL
— Ryan Saavedra (@RealSaavedra) September 20, 2019
While Biden’s claim seems rather straightforward, and Ukraine’s government did indeed fire Shokin, the timeline doesn’t add up.
Biden suggested that Ukraine fired Shokin within the six hours before the VP left the country, but Biden only visited Ukraine six times as vice president, and none of those six visits lines up with Shokin’s firing. Biden went to Ukraine on December 7 and 8, 2015. The Ukrainian Parliament voted to remove Shokin more than four months later, in late March 2016.
In other words, Biden was fibbing. More specifically, the former vice president appears to have fabricated a story that he thought would make him look good, but it backfired.
Biden’s defenders have long noted that EU and U.S. officials faulted Shokin for not investigating Burisma enough. They claimed that Biden was not trying to protect Burisma by trying to oust Shokin, but they seemed to take Biden’s remarks at face value. Biden was indeed not alone in calling for Shokin’s ouster — and that means his suggestion that he unilaterally got Shokin fired was an extreme exaggeration.
The reality is far less interesting than both the Right and the Left imagined. Biden wasn’t trying to protect Burisma and Hunter Biden — and he wasn’t an impressive lone crusader against Shokin’s corruption. Instead, he was just one of many voices speaking against Shokin, and there’s no reason to take his claim about the $1 billion at face value.
In fact, Biden is a notorious fabulist. In August 2019, The Washington Post busted Biden’s claims that he had pinned a Silver Star on an elderly Navy captain in Afghanistan. This story represented merely the latest version of a tale Biden had repeatedly fabricated. As the Post‘s Matt Viser explained, “In the space of three minutes, Biden got the time period, the location, the heroic act, the type of medal, the military branch and the rank of the recipient wrong, as well as his own role in the ceremony,” and it wasn’t the first time.
Biden has also made false claims about the Heritage Foundation and the Trump tax cuts, and he is well-known for meandering stories that exaggerate his role in historical events — like his evolving story about his role in the assassination of Osama bin Laden.
Like the Silver Star story and the bin Laden tale, the Shokin ouster narrative likely represented another Biden fable, not a shocking confession about a quid pro quo to protect Hunter Biden’s corrupt employer.
None of this erases the fact that Hunter Biden’s business deals still represent a serious scandal for Joe Biden, however. Hunter Biden did rake in serious dough, seemingly cashing in on his father’s influence in foreign countries like Ukraine, Kazakhstan, and China. Tony Bobulinski, a former associate of Hunter’s, claimed that Joe Biden was personally involved in some of the China deals. Hunter Biden even introduced his business partners to his father, while Joe Biden was vice president!
The real Burisma scandal isn’t the fact that Biden (falsely) took credit for Shokin’s ouster, but the fact that Biden met a Burisma executive at a swanky restaurant in Washington, D.C., in 2015. This seriously undermines Joe Biden’s claim that he did not know anything about his son’s extremely worrisome business deals.