Accuracy in Media

Hunter Biden did have relevant expertise to get a $50,000-a-month seat on the board of a Ukrainian energy company called Burisma Holdings that was under investigation by the government there, and any allegations of wrongdoing are “not substantiated” and “widely disputed by former U.S. officials and Ukrainian anti-corruption activists,” according to a story Monday on the Washington Post website.

For Mykola Zlochevsky, the former Ukrainian energy minister-turned-CEO of Burisma Holdings who was “working to remake the company’s image as he faced a money-laundering investigation,” getting Biden to join the board “was a stunning coup” that “sent a message internally in Ukraine that Zlochevsky had access to powerful people in the West” and made Burisma “look like a Western, legitimate company.”

So, Hunter Biden, who had been kicked out of the Army only months before for testing positive for cocaine, was brought on the board by Aleksander Kwasniewski, a former president of Poland, because “they shared a belief that Ukrainian energy independence was critical to rebuffing Russian President Vladimir Putin.”

That’s how Hunter Biden got onto the board of a Ukrainian energy company that already was under multiple probes in Ukraine while his dad was vice-president and in charge of the United States’ Ukrainian diplomatic portfolio, according to “The gas tycoon and the vice president’s son” The story of Hunter Biden’s foray into Ukraine,” by Paul Sonne, Michael Kranish and Matt Viser of the Post.

“No evidence of criminal wrongdoing by the Bidens has surfaced,” Sonne, Kranish and Viser wrote. The “primary accusation” made by President Trump and his attorney, Rudolph Giuliani – “that Joe Biden pushed for the firing of Ukraine’s top prosecutor to quash a probe into the former minister and Burisma owner” – is “not substantiated and has been widely disputed by former U.S. officials and Ukrainian anti-corruption activists.”

In reality, significant evidence has surfaced, and the claim that Joe Biden forced out the top prosecutor is not even in dispute, thanks to a video of the vice president bragging about it.

The Bidens couldn’t have been totally unaware of the potential conflict of interest, Sonne, Kranish and Viser wrote. Biden’s campaign is “struggling to explain” why the vice president didn’t “take steps to head off a perceived conflict of interest,” the Post wrote. “Some Ukrainians” said the board position “undermined [Joe Biden’s] calls to end corruption in Ukraine.”

A staffer or two even tried to talk to Joe Biden about it, although “other aides said they didn’t want – or see a need – to raise the issue” and “former U.S. officials who worked with Biden maintain that his son’s activities in no way influenced his actions regarding Ukraine as vice president. ‘Is there an appearance issue,’ a former adviser said. ‘Of course, there’s an appearance issue. But did it actually create wrongdoing? No.’”

It wasn’t even clear Hunter Biden knew the company had legal problems when he joined its board, the Post wrote.

His business partner certainly did. Chris Heinz, heir to the ketchup fortune and stepson of former Secretary of State John Kerry, thought not that the company was too corrupt, according to the Post, but that “the region was so unsettled” that he ended his business relationship with Hunter Biden when the younger Biden joined the Burisma board.

Only 30 paragraphs later does it expound on Heinz’ reasoning. “Heinz was concerned about reports of corruption in Ukraine, geopolitical risks and general questions about appearance,” the Post wrote. But Heinz’ attorney fleshed out the point – this was not about Ukraine in general but Burisma in particular – contrary to what is said about Hunter and Biden and Heinz earlier.

“’Mr. Heinz strongly warned Mr. Archer [Hunter Biden’s attorney] that working with Burisma was unacceptable” and “The lack of judgment in this matter was a major catalyst for Mr. Heinz ending his business relationships with Mr. Archer and Mr. Biden,” Heinz’ spokesman, Chris Bastardi, told the Post.

Photo by CSIS: Center for Strategic & International Studies

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