News & Politics

Obama State Dept. Worried About Potential Hunter Biden Corruption With Burisma

Former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch testifies before the House Intelligence Committee, Friday, Nov. 15, 2019, on Capitol Hill in Washington, in the second public impeachment hearing of President Donald Trump's efforts to tie U.S. aid for Ukraine to investigations of his political opponents. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

On Friday, one of the Democrats’ witnesses in the impeachment hearing testified that the Obama State Department was so concerned about potential conflicts of interest and corruption involving Hunter Biden and Burisma that officials coached her to ask about it. Democrats have acted as though President Donald Trump’s request that Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky look into Burisma had nothing to do with fighting corruption and everything to do with attacking former Vice President Joe Biden. Biden has even suggested that his son did nothing wrong. Yet the Obama administration’s concern highlights just how sordid Hunter Biden’s job at Burisma was.

Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) asked Marie Yavonavitch, former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, about the Obama State Department’s coaching, about which Yavonavitch had previously testified.

“The first time you personally became aware of Burisma was actually when you were being prepared by the Obama State Department for your confirmation hearings,” Stefanik began. “You testified that in this particular practice Q & A with the Obama State Department, it wasn’t just generally about Burisma and corruption, it was specifically about Hunter Biden and Burisma. Is that correct?”

“Yes it is,” Yavonavitch replied.

“The way the question was phrased in this model Q & A was, ‘What can you tell us about Hunter Biden’s, you know, being named to the board of Burisma?'” Stefanik explained.

“President Obama’s own State Department was so concerned about potential conflicts of interest from Hunter Biden’s role at Burisma that they raised it themselves while prepping this wonderful ambassador nominee before her confirmation,” the congresswoman emphasized. “And yet our Democratic colleagues and the chairman of this committee cry foul when we dare ask that same question that the Obama State Department was so concerned about it.”

She further asked the witness, “In terms of the defensive lethal aid, which you were an advocate for, that was not provided by President Obama, it was provided by President Trump?”

Yavonavitch responded, “That’s correct.”

This was a monumental revelation. If even the Obama State Department recognized the potential for corruption in late 2016-early 2017, when officials were coaching Yavonavitch, why is it considered the height of partisanship for Trump to ask Zelensky to look into this corruption?

The Democrats’ impeachment effort relies on the narrative that Trump held up defense funding as a quid pro quo, using leverage to force Zelensky to open a politically-motivated investigation of Hunter Biden — who had joined the board of Ukrainian gas company Burisma while his father was the U.S. point man on Ukraine, even though he had no experience in the industry.

Yet on Wednesday, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) suggested a more plausible explanation of events. Trump may have been seriously concerned about Zelensky’s commitment to rooting out corruption and he may have waited to send the money until that commitment was proven. He may have asked for the Burisma investigation to test the waters. After Zelensky met with other U.S. officials in Trump’s administration, they convinced Trump that Zelensky was to be trusted, so the president released the funding without a Hunter Biden investigation being opened. This explains events without a quid pro quo.

The Obama State Department’s concern about Hunter Biden’s position makes Jordan’s narrative even more plausible. While it has been previously reported that Obama officials were concerned about Burisma, Stefanik drew attention to the fact that one of the Democrats’ witnesses for impeachment, Marie Yavonavitch, was herself coached by the Obama State Department on these matters.

It seems Democrats have given up pretending that Hunter Biden’s job was not problematic. Even MSNBC’s Chris Matthews asked, “Is there anyone who doesn’t think it’s an appearance of a conflict of interest on this planet?”

Democrats are impeaching President Donald Trump for asking Zelensky to investigate something the Obama State Department was concerned about, and for doing so without a quid pro quo. Ukrainian officials did not even know the money had been held up!

The impeachment narrative is falling apart — and Democrats know they’re not making headway in convincing the American people.

Follow Tyler O’Neil, the author of this article, on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.