A State Department official in charge of Ukraine policy told House investigators this week that in early 2015 he raised concerns with then-VP Joe Biden’s office over Hunter Biden’s dealings in the country, but was rebuffed and told that the Vice President didn’t have the “bandwidth” to deal with the issue as his other son, Beau, was battling cancer.
According to the Washington Post, “George Kent, a deputy assistant secretary of state, testified Tuesday that he worried that Hunter Biden’s position at the firm Burisma Holdings would complicate efforts by U.S. diplomats to convey to Ukrainian officials the importance of avoiding conflicts of interest, said the people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of confidentiality rules surrounding the deposition.”
Kent told congressional investigators he was concerned that Ukrainian officials would see Hunter Biden as a means to curry influence with his father.
Kent, who also testified about how Trump’s associates raised unfounded allegations about the former ambassador to Ukraine, is the first known example of a career diplomat who raised concerns internally in the Obama administration about Hunter Biden’s board position. The Washington Post has previously reported that there had been discussions among Biden’s advisers about whether his son’s Ukraine work would be perceived as a conflict of interest, and that one former adviser had been concerned enough to mention it to Biden, though the conversation was brief. –WaPo
Joe Biden has faced tough questions over why he didn’t anticipate his son’s Ukraine work would raise rad flags over conflicts of interest at the same time he was in a leading role in carrying out US policy toward Ukraine.
Hunter Biden made roughly $50,000 per month on the board of Ukrainian gas giant Burisma Holdings, while Joe Biden has been accused by a Ukrainian politician of getting paid $900,000 from Burisma.
A former senior national security aide to Biden provided the Post with a massive amount of cover, telling the paper he has no recollection of Kent’s concerns, and what’s the big deal anyway?
“I don’t understand what the optics thing means other than someone thinking it looked bad in a political way,” said the aide. “Did it have any effect on US 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.”
The aide also said that the death of Joe Biden’s son, Beau, had little to no impact on his work.
“Day to day the vice president was at work and he was pretty focused,” said the aide. “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 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.”
The Bidens adventures in Ukraine are at the heart of an impeachment inquiry against President Trump, whose crime was to ask Ukraine’s president to “look into” what went on with the Bidens – after Joe Biden infamously bragged about getting the lead Ukrainian prosecutor fired, who happened to be investigating Burisma for corruption.
Biden says that he has never spoken with Hunter about his Ukraine dealings, and only learned about the Burisma position when he read about it in news reports – a claim Hunter contradicted in a Vanity Fair interview. Hunter told ABC this week that he did “nothing wrong at all” but showed “poor judgement” making hundreds of thousands of dollars at Burisma while his father was in charge of Ukraine policy for the Obama administration.
And now we know that at least one Obama-era ambassador raised concerns over it.
As an aside, you know a story is bad for the left when the Washington Post has to defend their own reporting.
I will never stop being surprised/annoyed that the knee-jerk reaction of the Twitter Left to any @washingtonpost story that looks critically at a Democrat is WHY AREN'T YOU COVERING TRUMP? As if we haven't been doing that aggressively.
— Karen Tumulty (@ktumulty) October 18, 2019