Is Joe Biden Turning His Quid Pro Quo into an Obama Scandal?
As Joe Biden continues to play defense over allegations of a quid pro quo for his threat to withhold a $1 billion loan to Ukraine, it seems that his primary defense was that he wasn’t acting unilaterally, but on behalf of the Obama administration, enforcing their official policy. Given all the information we have at this point, this strategy seems more likely to hurt Obama than protect Biden.
For starters, Biden previously implicated Obama back in 2016 when he bragged about how he got Viktor 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. ... 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."
On Wednesday Biden said he was simply carrying out the “official policy” of the Obama administration to root out corruption in Ukraine. “It was a fully transparent policy carried out in front of the whole world and fully, fully embraced by the international community of democracies,” he claimed.
Here’s where things get dirty. According to Viktor Shokin, Biden's pressure was responsible for him getting fired. Shokin also said that Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko told him not to investigate Burisma because it was not in the best interests of Joe and/or Hunter Biden.
According to Rudy Giuliani’s notes of his meeting with Shokin, “Mr. Shokin was called into Mr. Poroshenko’s office and told that the investigation into Burisma and the Managing Director where Hunter Biden is on the board, has caused Joe Biden to hold up one billion dollars in U.S. aid to Ukraine.”
So, what we have here is Biden essentially trying to turn his quid pro quo into an Obama administration scandal. By Biden’s own admission he wasn’t acting unilaterally, and it was understood by Poroshenko that the Burisma investigation was the reason for withholding the billion-dollar loan. If that was made clear by Joe Biden, then it stands to reason that Biden wasn’t the only person in the Obama administration who understood the connection between Biden and Burisma. Biden told Ukrainian officials to call Barack Obama when they questioned Biden’s authority to withhold the loan. Are we really expected to believe that Barack Obama and others in the administration were not unaware of the Burisma investigation and Hunter Biden’s lucrative position on their board?
It all fits together with Biden’s campaign strategy of aligning himself with Obama every chance he gets. Biden thinks he can use Obama as a shield, but what he’s really doing is taking Obama down with him. No wonder Barack Obama didn’t want Joe to run. If Biden's presidential ambitions go down in flames over this, it's hard to see how he doesn't take Barack Obama down with him.
Matt Margolis is the author of Trumping Obama: How President Trump Saved Us From Barack Obama's Legacy and the bestselling book The Worst President in History: The Legacy of Barack Obama. You can follow Matt on Twitter @MattMargolis