This column has been adapted from Sean Hannity’s new book, “Live Free Or Die: America (and the World) on the Brink”
The Trump impeachment was actually two stories. The hate-Trump press wanted America to hear only one of these—the fantasy claim that Trump abused his power by pressuring Ukraine for dirt on Joe Biden.
But it’s the other story that matters, since it puts everything into context. That’s the story of Ukrainian corruption. The media never covered this reality because it vindicated Trump. That story also centered on the front-runner for the Democratic nomination: former vice president Joe Biden. It particularly spotlighted Biden’s second son Hunter, a lawyer and lobbyist. Hunter was acutely aware of the sway of the Biden name, and Ukraine gave him the opportunity to cash in on it.
Ukraine had a revolution in 2014, which led to the ouster of its pro-Russian president, Viktor Yanukovych. Obama in early 2014 dispatched Joe Biden to lead the administration’s work with that new government. Sleepy Joe became a regular visitor to Ukraine, traveling there frequently from 2014 to 2016, getting to know all the major players. This position also gave Biden a say over how to direct Western aid dollars to the country.
So imagine the coincidence when in spring 2014—just a few months after Joe got his Ukraine job—Hunter Biden scored a lucrative position on the board of Burisma Holdings, a Ukrainian energy company. Hunter had zero experience in the energy industry. Zero experience in the oil and gas sector. Zero experience with the country of Ukraine. And yet according to reports, Burisma started paying Hunter up to $50,000 a month for his non-expertise.
Hunter’s business partner, Devon Archer, was also named to the board. According to one report, Burisma paid a total of $3.4 million to a Biden-Archer firm over eighteen months.
What exactly did Hunter bring to the company?
At the time it hired him, Burisma was swamped by corruption allegations. Investigators in Ukraine, the United States, and Great Britain were all looking at its operations. Its owner, a Ukrainian oligarch, had been accused of embezzling public funds and steering government contracts to his companies. Nice time to have a Biden on your side, right?
The press downplays it now, but the Hunter appointment was immediately news in Washington and caused a stink. John Kerry was secretary of state at the time, and his stepson, Christopher Heinz, was invested in the Biden-Archer firm. When Hunter’s board position was made public in May 2014, Heinz wrote an email to Kerry’s top aides distancing himself from the decision. A Heinz spokesman later admitted that “the lack of judgment in this matter was a major catalyst for Mr. Heinz ending his business relationships with Mr. Archer and Mr. Biden.”
Aides within Vice President Biden’s office discussed whether “Hunter’s position on the board would be perceived as a conflict of interest.” The Washington Post admitted that “one former adviser was concerned enough to mention it to the vice president . . . but the conversation was brief.” And the concerns didn’t die.
George Kent, a career State Department official, testified that in early 2015 he raised Hunter’s position with the vice president’s staff, saying it was a potential “conflict of interest” given Joe Biden’s Ukrainian portfolio. “The message that I recall hearing back was that the Vice President’s son Beau was dying of cancer and that there was no further bandwidth to deal with family-related issues at that time,” Kent testified. Amos Hochstein, the Obama energy czar, also raised the issue directly to Joe Biden.
Ol’ Joe now claims he knew nothing about his son’s business dealings. We know that’s not true. Discussing Hunter’s position with Burisma, “Dad said, ‘I hope you know what are doing,’ ” Hunter told the New Yorker in a story written before the impeachment drama.
There is also a public picture of Joe Biden golfing with Devon Archer in 2014. And on December 8, 2015, the New York Times wrote a story blowing the whole issue into the open. It noted Hunter Biden’s appointment and Burisma’s corruption problems, and questioned whether they “undermined” Joe Biden’s “anticorruption message” in Ukraine. The story explained that “Kate Bedingfield, a spokeswoman for the vice president, said Hunter Biden’s business dealings had no impact on his father’s policy positions in connection with Ukraine.”
Joe knew all about his son’s work and that Burisma was under investigation by Ukrainian authorities. Yet also in December 2015, Biden traveled to Ukraine and demanded the government fire the very prosecutor who was investigating Burisma, threatening to withhold $1 billion in U.S. loan guarantees to Ukraine unless that firing happened. Joe even bragged about the moment at a Council on Foreign Relations event in January 2018: “I looked at them and said: I’m leaving in six hours. If the prosecutor is not fired, you’re not getting the money. Well, son of a bitch. [Audience laughter]. He got fired.”
This is the kind of despicable nepotism and influence-peddling that is all too common in Washington and that Trump promised to stop. Joe Biden was leveraging his role in the White House—and your tax dollars—for a get-rich-quick scheme for his family. Hunter Biden and his Burisma buddies were facing a major corruption investigation by Ukraine’s top prosecutors. Who came to the rescue? Daddy, the vice president, ensuring his son would continue to benefit from his get-rich scheme.
Let’s also call this for what it was: a quid pro quo. Biden was giving Ukrainian officials the message: you will not get over a billion dollars’ worth of American aid unless you get rid of a prosecutor who is investigating the company my son is profiting from. This was Quid Pro Quo Joe exploiting his position to keep his son in the cash.
From LIVE FREE OR DIE by Sean Hannity. Copyright © 2020 by Sean Hannity. Reprinted by permission of Threshold Editions, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, Inc.