There is so much to unpack from a new report, released on September 23, on the connections between former Vice President Joe Biden’s son, Hunter, a corrupt Ukrainian oligarch, and various other foreign officials and business people. None of it is good for the man who would be the next U.S. president. The 87-page document was compiled from an investigation by the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs and the Majority staff of the Senate Committee on Finance. In summary, it details a global network of financial transactions between the Biden family and several foreign nationals, while the Obama administration merely looked the other way.
Any number of U.S. or foreign laws may have been broken, though that determination cannot be made with certainty, at this point. At the same time, so much money sloshing around between an ensemble of characters and the son of the then-vice president should be throwing up a lot of red flags.
Potential Criminal Activity
As section XI of the report says: “The Treasury records acquired by the Chairmen show potential criminal activity relating to transactions among and between Hunter Biden, his family, and his associates with Ukrainian, Russian, Kazakh and Chinese nationals.”
For Joe Biden, the optics are not good, one might say. Hunter did not exactly have a reputation as a successful and influential businessman, and yet, once his father became vice president, he suddenly scored a string of lucrative business arrangements with high-powered individuals in the countries mentioned. Are the American people supposed to believe that this was all coincidental or that Hunter Biden, through his own efforts, created these relationships and financial arrangements?
Very soon after Joe Biden assumed the lead role in the Obama administration’s efforts to assist Ukraine in fighting domestic corruption, Hunter Biden and his business associate, Devon Archer, joined the board of directors of Burisma Holdings, a Ukrainian energy company. This was in 2014. In May and September of that year, Burisma made payments to Hunter through a Washington law firm, Boies, Schiller, and Flexner LLP, of $250,000 and $33,039.77, respectively. These payments were for “legal and consulting services.”
Between May 2014 and February 2016, Burisma paid Devon Archer’s company, Rosemont Seneca Bohai, a total of $3,489,490.78. Between June 2014 and October 2015, Rosemont Seneca Bohai made 38 wire transfers to three bank accounts in Hunter Biden’s name. Those wire transfers totaled $701,979. But it gets so much more complicated than that. Burisma made payments also to another Washington law firm, Owasco PC, of which Hunter Biden was the executive officer.
The Senate report, in fact, details a head-spinning web of financial transactions between various Ukrainian and U.S. companies – the full picture puts the most complex international thriller novel to shame.
Fighting Corruption – With Corruption?
Mykola Zlochevsky, the Ukrainian oligarch who owned Burisma, was notoriously corrupt. The U.S. Department of State knew it, and so did the British government. Millions of dollars in assets belonging to Zlochevsky were frozen by the U.K. The oligarch allegedly attempted to bribe the Ukrainian Prosecutor General’s Office into helping him get the assets unfrozen.
Considering that Joe Biden’s involvement in Ukraine was supposed to be all about rooting out corruption, his son’s relationship with Zlochevsky was a serious concern – or should have been.
Then, in 2016, as Ukraine’s top prosecutor, Viktor Shokin, ran an investigation into Burisma, Joe Biden travels to Ukraine and threatens to withhold $1 billion in loan guarantees unless Shokin is immediately fired.
George Kent, who was at the time acting deputy chief of mission at the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv, raised these concerns with the State Department and with Joe Biden’s office in early 2015. He received no response. In October of that year, a senior State Department official, Amos Hochstein, took these same concerns to Biden’s office. Specifically, Hochstein worried “that Hunter Biden’s position on Burisma’s board enabled Russian disinformation efforts and risked undermining U.S. policy in Ukraine,” as written in the report. Still, the Obama administration did nothing.
Joe Biden himself avoided making any public statements linking Zlochevsky to corruption, and Secretary of State John Kerry much later denied having any knowledge of the entire Biden-Burisma connection.
Hunter Biden, the report says, was also making payments to various foreign nationals in the U.S. These individuals were females from Russia and other Eastern European countries “who appear to be linked to an ‘Eastern European prostitution or human trafficking ring.’”
Other suspicious financial transactions are detailed in the report, including a payment from a Kazakh businessman to Devon Archer and another to Hunter Biden from the wife of a former mayor of Moscow, in the amount of $3.5 million.
Hunter Biden also, at one point, opened a joint bank account with a Chinese national, Gongwen Dong, “to fund a $100,000 global spending spree with James Biden and Sara Biden.”
Staggering Lack of Judgement
Assuming, for a moment, that not a single law has been broken and that everything Hunter Biden did was entirely above board, the inappropriateness of it all is almost beyond belief. The sheer lack of judgment on the part of both Hunter and Joe Biden and the failure of the State Department and the Obama administration itself to exercise any oversight of these matters is staggering.
Biden senior, at best, displayed a stunning level of incompetence by sanctioning his son’s activities. At worst, he willfully facilitated his family’s enrichment through shady arrangements with various foreign nationals. These individuals were known for their corruption and also for their ties to the governments of Russia and China, America’s two most potent and untrustworthy adversaries on the world stage.
In comparison to all of this, President Trump’s now-famous phone call to the president of Ukraine – over which Trump was impeached – appears laughably trivial. But Trump was never a part of the establishment, which very clearly operates within its own, self-defined standards of justice, integrity, and transparency.
Read more from Graham J. Noble.