Former Vice President Joe Biden exploded at the media on Friday when asked about his youngest son’s shadowy business dealings in Ukraine.
The tense altercation occurred during a campaign stop in Los Angeles, California, where the former vice president was asked if Hunter Biden’s service on the board of directors of Burisma Holdings, a Ukrainian oil and gas giant, had posed a conflict of interest during his time in the White House.
Biden, who in the past had refused to discuss his son’s business dealings with foreign governments, appeared perturbed by the question.
“It’s not a conflict of interest,” the former vice president said. “There’s been no indication of any conflict of interest, from Ukraine or anywhere else, period. I’m not going to respond to that.”
WATCH: Joe Biden explodes when a reporter asks a very simple question:
"How was your role as Vice President in charge of policy in Ukraine and your son's job in Ukraine, how is that not a conflict of interest?"
Biden: "I'm not going to respond to that!"
What is he hiding? pic.twitter.com/jbycKLARhE
— Trump War Room (@TrumpWarRoom) October 4, 2019
The question regarding the potential conflict of interest came only hours after the newly appointed Ukrainian Prosecutor General announced he was reviewing allegations of criminal conduct against Burisma.
Hunter Biden joined the company’s board of directors in April 2014, despitehaving no prior background in either the energy industry or Ukraine. As Peter Schweizer, senior contributor at Breitbart News, detailed in his book Secret Empires: How the American Political Class Hides Corruption and Enriches Family and Friend, Hunter Biden secured the position, which paid as much as $83,000 per month, around the same time his father was tapped to lead the Obama administration’s policy in Ukraine.
The timing of Hunter Biden’s ascension to Burisma’s board immediately raised questions from ethics watchdogs in both the U.S. and Europe concerning conflicts of interest. Adding to the ethical cloud over that appointment was that Mykola Zlochevsky, Burisma’s founder, had his assets seized in the United Kingdom for suspicion of money laundering. Many have speculated Hunter Biden’s position on Burisma’s board was an attempt by Zlochevsky to curry favor with western leaders to prevent further scrutiny of his business dealings.
Such a brazen attempt would not be totally ill-suited for Zlochevsky. The Burisma founder is rumored to be one of eastern Europe’s top oligarchs, a position obtained while serving in the Ukrainian government under former President Viktor Yanukovych — a staunch ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin. It was during his tenure in government as Ukraine’s minister of natural resources that Burisma received its oil and gas licenses.
It is in the context of Burisma and Zlochevsky’s legal troubles that Joe Biden’s political influence has raised the most red flags. The former vice president has particularly drawn questions over his conduct in demanding the Ukrainian government fire its top prosecutor, Viktor Shokin, in 2016. Biden, who has publicly bragged about the firing, reportedly threatened to withhold more than one billion dollars in U.S. aid if the Ukrainian government did not remove Shokin. He has claimed the demand came from then-President Barack Obama, who had allegedly lost faith in the prosecutor’s ability to tackle corruption.
Unofficially, though, it was well known Shokin was investigating both Burisma and Zlochevsky for public corruption. It is uncertain if the probe extended to Hunter Biden, although Shokin has recently admitted that prior to his ouster, he was warned to back off of the matter. Regardless of what occurred, Shokin’s successor dropped the investigation into Burisma and Zlochevsky
Since President Donald Trump suggested the matter be looked into by Ukraine, an action that launched an impeachment inquiry by the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives, Biden has worked to minimize his role in the entire proceeding. Part of that strategy has been to pivot the conversation away from Hunter Biden and Burisma by accusing Trump of abusing his power in suggesting Ukraine probe the issue.
“Let’s focus on the problem, focus on this man, what he’s doing, that no president has ever done,” Biden told the media on Friday.