President Donald Trump and his attorney Rudy Giuliani’s moves to pressure Ukraine to investigate the Bidens in a bid to help Trump’s candidacy are based on a conspiracy theory that was debunked as soon as Giuliani first floated it in the spring.
Trump admitted he discussed former Vice President Joe Biden’s son during a phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky Sunday after a whistleblower came forward with an “urgent” complaint related to Trump’s apparent pressure on Ukraine. Democrats have alleged that Trump blocked aid approved by Congress to Ukraine as leverage to pressure Zelensky into launching an investigation into the Bidens.
The conspiracy theory, as Giuliani tells it, is that Biden, while serving as Obama’s point man on Ukraine, pressured the previous administration into firing a prosecutor who was investigating a company owned by a Ukrainian oligarch and former cabinet member that employed Biden’s son, Hunter Biden.
The problem is that the timeline simply doesn’t line up, which was made clear when Giuliani first began shopping the conspiracy theory to media outlets in the spring.
Hunter Biden and his company weren’t being investigated:
Shortly after Giuliani came under fire for planning a trip to Ukraine to pressure the country into colluding with Trump’s re-election campaign, Ukraine’s prosecutor general rejected claims that Hunter Biden and the energy company he worked for, Burisma, were under investigation and told Bloomberg News that prosecutors “do not see any wrongdoing” related to Biden, his father, or the company.
“Back in March 2016, Biden threatened to withhold $1 billion in loan guarantees if Ukraine failed to address corruption and remove its Prosecutor General, Viktor Shokin, who soon after left office amid widespread calls for his dismissal. Though Shokin had begun a probe into Burisma, it was dormant when he departed,” Bloomberg reported.
Following Giuliani’s recent denial and subsequent admission that the Trump team pressured Ukraine on Biden, New York Times reporter Ken Vogel, who starred in a Trump video pushing the debunked conspiracy theory, reiterated that there was no there there.
“No evidence has surfaced that the former vice president intentionally tried to help his son by pressing for the prosecutor’s dismissal,” The Times reported. “In fact, some of the vice president’s former associates said he never did anything to deter other efforts to go after the oligarch, Mykola Zlochevsky. Those efforts included a push by Obama administration officials for the United States to support criminal investigations by Ukrainian and British authorities, and possibly for the United States to start its own investigation, into the energy company, Burisma Holdings, and its owner, Mr. Zlochevsky, for possible money laundering and abuse of office.”
Dismissal of prosecutor had universal support:
“His dismissal had been sought not just by Mr. Biden, but also by others in the Obama administration, as well other Western governments and international lenders,” The Times reported. “Mr. Shokin had been repeatedly accused of turning a blind eye to corruption in his office and among the Ukrainian political elite, and criticized for failing to bring corruption cases.”