A career State Department officials who oversaw Ukraine policy testified to House investigators this week that he raised concerns about Hunter Biden’s work for a Ukrainian energy company in 2015 but was rebuffed by an aide to then-Vice President Joe Biden, The Wall Street Journal reports.
George Kent, a deputy secretary of State, testified to impeachment investigators Tuesday that he raised concerns that Hunter Biden’s job at the firm Burisma “would complicate efforts by U.S. diplomats to convey to Ukrainian officials the importance of avoiding conflicts of interest,” according to the report.
Kent said he worried that Ukrainians would see Hunter “as a conduit for currying influence with his father.”
When Kent brought up the issue with Joe Biden’s office, he was told that the vice president did not have the “bandwidth” to deal with issues involving his son, as his other son Beau was battling cancer.
A former Biden national security aide told The Journal that he had no recollection of Kent’s concerns.
“I don’t understand what the optics thing means other than someone thinking it looked bad in a political way,” the aide said. “Did it have any effect on U.S. policies, either on what we were doing or what the Ukrainians were doing? It didn’t. ... In the aggregate it didn’t have any discernible effect.”
Kent also said Trump allies pushed false claims:
Kent also testified that Trump associates pushed false allegations against Marie Yovanovitch, the former ambassador to Ukraine who was forced out at the urging of Rudy Giuliani.
Trump’s allegations against the Bidens are also false.
“Trump and his allies have made the unsubstantiated claim that Biden pressed for the prosecutor’s firing to protect his son. In fact, according to former U.S. officials and Ukrainian anti-corruption activists, the investigation of Burisma was dormant at the time,” The Journal reported. “And Biden, adding to the calls from others in the U.S. government and Western institutions, was urging Ukraine to tap a new prosecutor who would be more aggressive in combating corruption.”
Biden camp again forced to deny wrongdoing:
Biden campaign spokesman Andrew Bates said in a statement that “on Joe Biden’s watch, the U.S. made eradicating corruption a centerpiece of our policies toward Ukraine.”
A former aide to Biden disputed that his focus on Beau’s cancer battle detracted from his responsibilities.
“Day to day the vice president was at work and he was pretty focused,” the aide said. “Does that mean it’s inconceivable that someone said, ‘Hey look it’s not the time to raise a family issue?’ I guess it’s conceivable. But I never saw evidence he wasn’t capable of doing the VP role and dealing with his family at the same time.”
Biden turned the tables on Trump, calling him out for appointing his children to White House positions.
“In my White House, none of my children or family have offices at the White House,” Biden said. “They will not be invited to sit in significant meetings of a Cabinet-level post and they will have no foreign investment, and the reason to do that is not because of anything that went on in our administration. It is because of what Donald Trump has done. He has so debased the standard of what constitutes ethical behavior that the next president has to make it absolutely clear — absolutely clear — this will not happen again.”