Former Vice President Joe Biden’s famous boast about withholding $1 billion in U.S. aid to Ukraine until the country’s president, Petro Poroshenko, agreed to fire Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin was not one of the smartest things he’s ever done.
Biden continues to cling to the lame excuse that the Obama Administration wanted Shokin fired because he was corrupt, rather than because the prosecutor general was about to question his son, Hunter Biden.
On Wednesday night, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) appeared on “Hannity,” and walked viewers through the timeline of events leading up to Shokin’s firing. I posted about this on Thursday here.
We all know that Hunter Biden had been appointed to the board of Burisma Holdings in April 2014, two months after Joe Biden became the Obama administration’s “point man” in Ukraine.
In September 2015, then U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt called for the investigation of Burisma’s founder, Mykola Zlochevsky, whom he believed to be extremely corrupt. Shokin opened the investigation.
On December 8, 2015, the New York Times published an article which said that Shokin’s office was investigating Zlochevsky. It said that Hunter Biden’s participation on Burisma’s board was “undercutting Joe Biden’s anticorruption message in Ukraine.”
Biden then learned that his son was about to be questioned by the prosecutor general’s office. The pressure from Biden (and the Obama administration) to prevent this from happening began.
(Note: The details of this story are explained in the above mentioned post along followed by a timeline prepared by investigative journalist John Solomon.)
Here is the short version. On February 2, 2016, the Prosecutor General ordered a raid on Zlochevsky’s home which he announced on February 4. That same day, Hunter Biden called the State Department.
On the 11th, the 18th and the 19th of February, Joe Biden called President Poroshenko. Graham is seeking transcripts or readouts of these three phone calls.
Graham told Hannity, “I want to know are there any transcripts or readouts of the phone calls between the Vice President and the President of the Ukraine in February  after the raid on the gas company president’s house. After this raid, Hunter Biden kicks in. Hunter Biden’s business partner [Devon Archer] meets with John Kerry, and Vice President Biden on three occasions makes a phone call to the president of Ukraine and goes over there in March and they fire the guy, and this is the same man that the ambassador wanted investigated in 2015.”
On Thursday, Graham sent a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo requesting those transcripts. The letter can be viewed here.
Upon learning of Graham’s request, the Democratic bench of the Senate Foreign Affairs committee sent a letter to Pompeo demanding that he recuse himself from all Ukraine matters due to his “profound conflict of interest.”
Dear Secretary Pompeo,
We write to express our deep concern that you continue to impede congressional inquiries into the Trump-Ukraine scandal. Given your direct involvement in the scandal, you have a profound conflict of interest and you must recuse yourself.
As you reluctantly admitted several weeks ago, you were on the infamous July 25 call between President Trump and Ukrainian President Zelensky. We now know, according to today’s testimony from Ambassador Gordon Sondland, that you were fully aware of President Trump’s scheme to withhold urgently needed security assistance to Ukraine for his personal and political gain.
Yet, you have continued to impede the House impeachment inquiry, including by refusing to produce any State Department records on the Trump-Ukraine scandal—including those that may shed further light on your own complicity. As Ambassador Sondland testified, the Department also refused to provide him access to his own materials as he prepared to testify.
These acts leave us with little doubt that you are blocking the Congress and American people from obtaining a full account of the scandal solely because the facts are damaging to your and the President’s personal and political interests.
The only legitimate option is for you to recuse and to delegate the Department’s response to the Trump-Ukraine scandal to a senior career Department official. We urge you to do so immediately.
The Daily News reported that Pompeo refused to recuse himself, nor would he comment on Sondland’s allegations. Pompeo told a reporter, “I didn’t see a single thing today, I was working. Sounds like you might not have been.”
State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus issued a statement which said that “Sondland never told Secretary Pompeo that he believed the president was linking aid to investigations of political opponents. Any suggestion to the contrary is flat-out false.”
Biden told CNN’s Don Lemon he is “quite frankly… angered” over Graham’s actions. He said, “They’re asking Lindsey Graham. They have him under their thumb right now. They know he knows if he comes out against Trump he’s got a real tough road for reelection.” He added:
He knows me. He knows my son. He knows there’s nothing to this.
Trump is essentially holding power over him [Graham] that even the Ukrainians wouldn’t yield to.
Lindsey is about to go down in a way that I think he’s going to regret his whole life. Lindsey… I’m just embarrassed by what you’re doing — for you — I mean, my Lord.
Biden is referring to former South Carolina Democratic Party Chairman Jaime Harrison’s announcement that he will challenge Graham in 2020.
“I’m just embarrassed by what you’re doing, for you. I mean, my Lord!” says Joe Biden, addressing Sen. Lindsey Graham’s move to seek documents related to Hunter Biden’s previous work in Ukraine. https://t.co/qxFE4LMRWL pic.twitter.com/OjamLUIuxC
— CNN Newsroom (@CNNnewsroom) November 22, 2019
Republicans have learned a lesson or two about recusing themselves over potential conflicts of interest. Former Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ decision to recuse himself from the Trump/Russia collusion case led to the appointment of Robert Mueller as Special Counsel.