President Trump’s allies are leaning into the controversy over a phone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, gambling that the increased attention to the story could actually hurt the president’s potential 2020 rival Joe Biden.
For days, Democrats have seized on allegations that Trump in July pressured Zelensky to investigate Biden family dealings – using military aid as leverage – and cited the reports to revive calls for the president’s impeachment.
But the firestorm, apparently related to a still-secret whistleblower complaint, has, in turn, opened the door for Republicans to revisit the original controversy involving Joe Biden’s son Hunter. Further, they allege, the details of that story suggest Biden did the same thing Trump is accused of doing — leveraging military aid to pressure Ukraine.
“The more they want to talk about Ukraine, the better,” Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani said Monday morning on Fox Business Network’s “Mornings with Maria.”
Giuliani has long been looking into the Bidens’ ties to Ukraine, claiming Hunter Biden improperly benefited from business dealings in Ukraine with energy company Burisma Holdings as a member of its board and questioning whether his dad helped protect him.
Hunter Biden was hired by Burisma in April 2014, two months after Ukraine’s Russia-friendly president was ousted by protesters and as his father was heavily involved in U.S. efforts to support the new pro-Western government and its pledge to fight corruption. The hiring of the younger Biden immediately raised concerns that the Ukrainian firm, whose owner was a political ally of the ousted president, was seeking to gain influence with the Obama administration.
Two years later, then-Vice President Joe Biden threatened to withhold $1 billion in loan guarantees from Ukraine unless a top prosecutor, Viktor Shokin, was fired. Shokin was accused by many in Ukraine and in the West of being soft on corruption, but he also had been leading an investigation into Burisma’s owner.
Trump has claimed Shokin “was after” Hunter Biden and the vice president was trying to protect his son.
“The very thing they’re accusing President Trump of doing, Biden did,” Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., told “Fox & Friends” Monday.
Fox News reported on the Biden controversy in April. The New York Times published a lengthy story on the matter in May. But the controversy flew largely under the radar until now. While the heat is on Trump over whether or not he pressured Ukraine to investigate the Bidens, that firestorm has prompted multiple news outlets to revisit the original Biden controversy in order to provide context.
Trump allies are hammering that as the real scandal, as video of Biden once bragging about his role in having Shokin fired has gone viral.
Joe Biden brags about how he threatened to pull $1 billion in loan guarantees from Ukraine if it didn’t immediately fire Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin.
The prosecutor, who was fired, was leading a corruption investigation into a company that employed Biden's son, Hunter pic.twitter.com/xZd3vIMbuL
— Ryan Saavedra (@RealSaavedra) September 20, 2019
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