The Jury Talks Back

9/23/2019

Biden Did Not Act Corruptly, It Seems, But It Looks Bad and Facts Don’t Matter Anyway

Filed under: Uncategorized — Patterico @ 8:01 am

How’s that for a headline?

The story that Biden was trying to squash an investigation into his son appears to be wrong on the facts. Not that hyperpartisans care about the facts.

Joe Biden traveled to Ukraine in March 2016 (it was not a phone call, as Trump claimed) and said the United States would withhold $1 billion in loan guarantees (not $2 billion, as Trump claimed) unless Shokin was removed (it was not a demand to stop the Burisma prosecution, as Trump claimed, and there’s no evidence Shokin “was after” Hunter Biden).

The vice president’s trip was part of a longer push by the United States, Western allies and nongovernmental organizations such as the International Monetary Fund and World Bank. The goal was to promote reform in Ukraine and remove a prosecutor who allegedly was turning a blind eye to corruption.

Bloomberg News reported May 7 that “at the time Biden made his ultimatum, the probe into the company – Burisma Holdings, owned by Mykola Zlochevsky – had been long dormant, according to the former official, Vitaliy Kasko.”

“There was no pressure from anyone from the U.S. to close cases against Zlochevsky,” Kasko, a former official in the prosecutor general’s office, told Bloomberg News. “It was shelved by Ukrainian prosecutors in 2014 and through 2015.”

That said, Biden’s involvement presents an appearance of a conflict of interest. Of course, the idea that Trump superfans care deeply about conflicts of interest is hilarious.

I’m unaware of evidence directly showing that Biden knew of the investigation (which had apparently already been long shelved) but it smells bad.

That said, everything about Trump smells bad. If you can’t bring yourself to acknowledge that, publicly and forthrightly, forgive me if I don’t take you seriously about your alleged Principled Concerns about Biden.

I don’t think any of this gets any traction, any more than Trump’s BS usually does. The facts are messy and none of the nuance will make it into the public debate. Trump has gestured at this kind of thing before, albeit as a candidate (“Russia, if you’re listening”), and his superfans shrugged then. (Until I read the Mueller report and learned how deadly serious he was about finding the emails, sending Flynn to find them the same day he issued his entreaty to Russia, I thought he was just joking with that “Russia, if you’re listening” line. But he wasn’t.) If you were to give Trump superfans even a transparently false and phony story that Biden is dirty too, they would snap it up regardless of the facts. That is who they are and what they do. The fact that there actually is a genuine conflict of interest issue just emboldens them in a position they would hold anyway.

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