Former Vice President Joe Biden admitted Wednesday that it “looked bad” that his son, Hunter Biden, held a seat on the board of Ukrainian energy company Burisma while his father was in charge of America’s policy toward Ukraine.
Biden, speaking to reporters on the campaign trail in Iowa while the Senate heard opening arguments in President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial, tried defending his son while rejecting a “witness swap” that would allow House Democrats to call former National Security Advisor John Bolton in return for letting the White House call Hunter.
But Biden also inadvertently undermined Democrats’ case against the president. House impeachment managers have argued that there was no “scintilla of evidence” backing Trump’s request that Ukraine investigate the Bidens and Burisma.
Via the Washington Post:
Biden also defended his son Hunter, who Republicans have been scrutinizing.“No one has suggested my son did anything wrong,” Biden said.
“There’s nobody that’s indicated there’s a single solitary thing he did that was inappropriate or wrong — other than the appearance. It looked bad that he was there,” Biden said, referencing comments that his son made in interviews about his role on the board of Ukrainian energy company Burisma Holdings.
It was not the first time the former vice president has admitted his apparent conflict of interest “looked bad”: he said last year in an interview with Telemundo that the arrangement “may have looked bad but wasn’t anything wrong.”
Joe Biden boasted at the Council on Foreign Relations in 2018 about forcing Ukraine to fire a prosecutor who had jurisdiction over an investigation into Burisma, on pain of losing access to $1 billion in U.S. loan guarantees.
The fact that it “looked bad” was the reason President Trump later asked new Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate the situation. “It sounds horrible,” Trump said in the transcript of their July 25 phone call.
Several witnesses called by Democrats in the House impeachment inquiry agreed that Biden’s conflict of interest was a glaring problem.
State Department official George Kent testified that Hunter Biden’s position suggested a conflict of interest: “I raised my concerns that I had heard that Hunter Biden was on the board of a company owned by somebody that the U.S. Government had spent money trying to get tens of milljons of dollars back and that could create the perception of a conflict of interest.” He informed the Vice President’s office, but nothing was ever done.
Likewise, former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch testified that Obama administration officials had briefed her about Burisma — the only company they mentioned — in preparing her for Senate confirmation hearings, telling her she should refer questions to the Vice President’s office if she was ever asked about the conflict of interest. Once she arrived at post in Kyiv, she admitted, the corruption-busting diplomat never took action against Burisma.
Reporters asked the Obama administration about the apparent conflict of interest in May 2014, but were referred to the Vice President’s office. There does not appear to have been any follow-up by the media or the administration.
House impeachment manager Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) declared on the floor of the Senate on Wednesday that Trump asked Ukraine to investigate “absent any legitimate basis whatsoever, absent any scintilla of evidence.”
Likewise, the House Judiciary Committee impeachment report asserted that Trump’s request was not “supported by the evidence or premised on any legitimate national security or foreign policy interest.” The articles of impeachment themselves claim that Trump “ignored and injured the interests of the Nation” in his request for investigations.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He earned an A.B. in Social Studies and Environmental Science and Public Policy from Harvard College, and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. He is also the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.