More questions emerge about Hunter Biden's business dealings, even as Trump impeachment inquiry intensifies
More questions are emerging about Hunter Biden’s business dealings -- fueled by new revelations related to his work in Ukraine, Romania and an alleged fraudulent bond scheme -- even as the House impeachment inquiry deals a series of blows to President Trump.
While the president continues to battle the allegations of a quid pro quo with Ukraine -- which are related to Trump pressing Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to look into the Bidens -- the new reports about Hunter Biden are also putting his father, Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, on the defensive as he repeatedly denies any wrongdoing.
NBC News reported last week that Hunter Biden in 2016 -- during the last year of the Obama administration -- traveled to Romania to advise real estate tycoon Gabriel Popociviu, who was accused of corruption. Hunter Biden’s work for Popoviciu went unreported, but at the time, then-Vice President Joe Biden was a leader in anti-corruption efforts for Romania.
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While NBC reported that there was no evidence that either Biden violated the law, critics have pointed to the arrangement as another example of Hunter Biden getting involved in efforts to help foreign figures avoid prosecution while his father was leading the charge to target corrupt individuals and practices.
Meanwhile, reports surrounding Hunter Biden’s connection to a fraudulent bond scheme are also surfacing and raising new questions about how the younger Biden was viewed during the time of his father’s vice presidency.
Biden’s name was reportedly involved as a selling point in a $60 million securities fraud based on bonds issued by a company affiliated with a Native American tribe in South Dakota, according to the Wall Street Journal. The funds were reportedly supposed to be used for certain projects but were instead used for the personal finances of Jason Galanis. Earlier this month, Fox News' Tucker Carlson first reported details relating to this case, saying, "Hunter Biden wasn't charged in that case, but his name was used to promote the fraudulent scheme and lend it legitimacy."
Galanis pleaded guilty to securities fraud in the case and was sentenced in 2017 to more than 14 years in prison. But one of Galanis’ co-conspirators in the arrangement, according to the Journal, was Devon Archer—a longtime friend and business partner of Hunter Biden.
According to court documents obtained by The Daily Caller, someone convicted in the scam said: "You see that this is who we’re doing business with? You don’t get more politically connected and make people more comfortable than that.” That's believed to be a reference to the younger Biden and his father’s role in the Obama administration.
According to the Journal, Archer’s attorney said during the 2018 trial that the younger Biden “was part of this deal.” A federal jury in Manhattan convicted Archer and two others of fraud last year, but later overturned the verdict against Archer.
Biden and Archer have had a long-standing business relationship and even sat on the board together of the now-controversial Ukrainian natural gas firm, Burisma Holdings. Biden's work with the firm is at the center of Trump's original request to Ukraine.
A source familiar with the situation told Fox News on Monday that Biden and Archer are no longer business partners.
Meanwhile, the White House is dealing with new headaches, as the top U.S. diplomat to Ukraine told congressional investigators last week that the administration linked U.S. military aid to the president’s call for politically-related investigations in Kiev.
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Diplomat Bill Taylor was referring to the now-famous phone call on July 25 between Trump and Zelensky, during which Trump pressed for Biden-related investigations.
According to Taylor’s testimony, U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland informed top Ukrainian aid Andriy Yermak weeks after the call that “security assistance money would not come until “President Zelensky committed to pursue the Burisma investigation.”
During the call with Zelensky, Trump is said to have pressured him to launch an investigation into the former vice president and his son—specifically their business dealings in Ukraine and the ex-Ukrainian prosecutor’s investigation into alleged corruption by the founder of Burisma.
Mykola Zlochevsky, a founder of Burisma and former minister of ecology and natural resources in Ukraine, was being investigated by then-prosecutor Viktor Shokin over allegations of corruption. At the time, Biden was spearheading the Obama administration’s Ukraine policy and successfully pressured ex-Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko to fire Shokin, amid the Burisma investigation.
Earlier this month, Fox News obtained notes from a private interview conducted by Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani with Shokin, who told him that he was told to back off the investigation involving Burisma, and that his “investigations stopped out of fear of the United States.”
“Mr. Shokin attempted to continue the investigations but on or around June or July of 2015, the U.S. Ambassador Geoffrey R. Pyatt told him that the investigation has to be handled with white gloves, which according to Mr. Shokin, that implied do nothing,” the notes from the interview stated. The notes also claimed Shokin was told Biden had held up U.S. aid to Ukraine over the investigation.
Shokin was fired in April 2016, and his case was “closed by the current Prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko,” according to the notes. Despite his claims, Shokin, on both sides of the Atlantic, had been widely accused of corruption.
“It is believed that Hunter Biden receives a salary, commission plus one million dollars,” Shokin said, according to the notes.
The notes added that “President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko told Mr. Shokin not to investigate Burisma as it was not in the interest of Joe and/or Hunter Biden. Mr. Shokin was called into Mr. Poroshenko’s office and told that the investigation into Burisma and the Managing Director where Hunter Biden is on the board, has caused Joe Biden to hold up one billion dollars in U.S. aid to Ukraine.”
Shokin then told Giuliani, according to the notes, that “in or around April of 2016” Poroshenko “told him he had to be fired as the aid to the Ukraine was being withheld by Joe Biden.”
Biden reportedly threatened to withhold $1 billion in critical U.S. aid if Shokin was not fired, though Biden repeatedly denied it had anything to do with Hunter Biden.
Meanwhile, the House impeachment inquiry against Trump was launched after a whistleblower first complained about the contents of Trump’s phone call to the intelligence community inspector general in August, stating the call seemed to show the president soliciting a foreign power to help in influencing the 2020 presidential election by opening an investigation into his political opponent.
This has since led to a parade of witnesses testifying behind closed doors about the president's effort to pressure Ukraine, including allegations that he held back military aid as leverage.
The White House and the president’s allies have maintained there was no such quid pro quo, though Taylor, the top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, provided testimony last week indicating the contrary.
As for Trump's focus on corruption involving the Bidens, the former vice president hit back on Sunday night on CBS News' "60 Minutes."
"You wanna deal with corruption? Start to act like it," Biden said. "Release your tax returns or shut up."