Former vice president and current Democratic candidate for president Joe Biden has been fending off calls to be investigated by President Donald Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani, who says the Justice Department ought to open an investigation into some of his actions in 2016.
Giuliani believes that Biden, in his capacity as vice president at the time, made an inappropriate request for Ukraine’s top prosecutor to resign from office.
Some have alleged conflicts of interest in Biden doing so, and several voices from the right, including conservative-leaning media, have pushed the narrative that Biden had conflicts of interest in his calling for the prosecutor general of Ukraine to step aside.
Reporting from news outlets last week revealed that Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin had previously been investigating a company called Burisma Holdings. Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, served as a member of its board for the company when the vice president made the demands for Shokin to resign or be dismissed.
Donald Trump’s personal lawyer is raising the specter that Joe Biden intervened in Ukrainian politics to help his son’s business https://t.co/x2ib78jSez
— Bloomberg (@business) May 7, 2019
Giuliani pounced on the reporting, and demanded that the U.S. Justice Department look into Biden’s demands at the time.
“Biden conflicts are too apparent to be ignored and should be investigated quickly and expeditiously,” Giuliani stated on Twitter, per reporting from Politico.
As it turns out, however, the suggestions that Biden held a conflict of interest against Shokin may be overzealous: the investigation into Burisma Holdings was completed years before Biden made the call for the prosecutor general to step down.
A former deputy who served under Shokin, Vitaliy Kasko, spoke with Bloomberg this week about the allegations of Biden’s conflicts of interest, dismissing them outright.
“There was no pressure from anyone from the U.S. to close cases against [Burisma Holdings owner Mykola] Zlochevsky,” Kasko said. “It was shelved by Ukrainian prosecutors in 2014 and through 2015.”
On top of that, Biden wasn’t necessarily wrong to call out Shokin’s corruption. For many years, criticisms against the prosecutor general had been levied against him being corrupt and ineffective by leaders across Europe.
By the time Biden was making the calls for him to be dismissed from his position, hundreds of protests outside Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko’s offices were underway, with demands from citizens themselves for Shokin to get the boot. He was expelled from his position shortly after.
After his departure from office, the European Union hailed the move to oust Shokin from his post. “This decision creates an opportunity to make a fresh start in the prosecutor general’s office,” Jan Tombinski, the EU envoy to Ukraine, said at the time, per reporting from the Irish Times.
Allegations against Biden for his supposed conflicts of interest in Ukraine had been shaping up to become a big issue for him in his presidential campaign. But with this reporting from Bloomberg, it seems those allegations are deflating, and any calls from Giuliani or any other figures from the right for Biden to be investigated should be met with skepticism, if they continue at all.