In an attempt to brag about his ability to strong-arm Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko in 2016, former Vice President Joe Biden may have talked himself into a corner.
During a speech to the Council on Foreign Relations in January 2018, Biden reflected on his days as vice president, specifically talking about his work negotiating with Ukranian officials as they navigated rocky relations with Russia.
Biden explained that corruption in the Ukrainian government is rampant and he bragged about his efforts to tamp down the shady dealings. The U.S. had considered giving Ukraine a $1 billion loan, but Biden announced that the funding had been canceled, in part, for the corruption of Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin.
The former vice president told the crowd:
“I was supposed to announce that there was another billion-dollar loan guarantee. And I had gotten a commitment from Poroshenko and from [Prime Minister Arseniy] Yatsenyuk that they would take action against the state prosecutor. And they didn’t. […] I looked at them and said: I’m leaving in six hours. If the prosecutor is not fired, you’re not getting the money. Well, son of a bitch. He got fired.”
While Biden’s anecdote was clearly an attempt to show how tough he was on corrupt foreign officials, he may have accidentally revealed his own ethical misstep.
According to a report from The Hill, a probe into Biden’s comment revealed that the prosecutor in question was investigating Burmisa Holdings, a natural gas firm that Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, was working for as a board member at the time of the incident described by the vice president.
Hunter worked for the U.S.-based company Rosemont Seneca Partners LLC, which received monthly transfers exceeding $166,000 per month from Burmisa Holdings while the vice president was leading the U.S. policy with the Ukranian government, according to The Hill’s report.
Shokin told The Hill he had plans to investigate Biden, telling reporter John Solomon that he had “specific plans” to investigate Burmisa that “included interrogations and other crime-investigation procedures into all members of the executive board, including Hunter Biden.”
Ukranian officials noted that it was exceedingly unlikely that Vice President Biden was unaware of the investigation into his son because the investigation into Burmisa was widely reported on, as was Hunter’s placement on the board prior to the start of the investigation.
There are also questions into the timing of Hunter’s placement on the board. According to the report, former President Barack Obama publically announced that Biden would be taking the lead on Ukrainian negotiations in February 2014. Just a few months later, Hunter was appointed to the board.
Biden’s decision to talk about the series of events leading to Shorkin’s termination prompted his predecessor to reopen the case against Burmisa, meaning there could be more developments on the horizon about Biden’s role in the previous investigation.
Although Biden has yet to announce if he will run for president in 2020, some have already started to question how this exchange could loom over his potential campaign.
The accusations against Biden & his touchy feeling style -are one thing… but this is different. There is a lot of substance in this piece. We are investigating as well https://t.co/5a8wbHH1Sw
— Bret Baier (@BretBaier) April 2, 2019
Joe Biden's 2020 Ukrainian nightmare: A closed probe is revived. Looks like Uncle Joe has some explaining to do. https://t.co/IyRjHaTFW4
— Corey R. Lewandowski (@CLewandowski_) April 2, 2019
Reminder: Joe Biden bragged ON CAMERA that he got Ukraine to fire their top prosecutor who was investigating his son's gas firm
We don't need to spread a dossier around DC to see this
It's right therehttps://t.co/sjMfsOIvg2
— Jack Posobiec 🇺🇸 (@JackPosobiec) April 2, 2019
Beyond this corruption scandal, Biden has also been hit with a pile of complaints about his behavior around women, with several women coming forward with accusations that the former vice president acted inappropriately and made them uncomfortable.