A court ruling in Ukraine has prompted state investigators to launch a probe into alleged pressure at the hands of then-Vice President Joe Biden that led to the 2016 removal of the Eastern European country’s top prosecutor, Victor Shokin, the Washington Post reported late last week.
Last year, President Trump urged Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to launch a similar investigation during the fateful July 25 call that triggered Trump’s impeachment by the Democrat-controlled House and his eventual acquittal in a Republican-led Senate trial.
White House hopeful Biden has boasted about threatening to withhold $1 billion in U.S. loan guarantees to Ukraine if the Eastern European country did not fire Shokin in 2016.
Shokin claimed his ouster was a result of his interest in investigating Ukrainian gas company Burisma Holdings, where the former vice president’s son, Hunter Biden, served on the board of directors between 2014 and 2019.
Citing Shokin’s lawyer, Oleksandr Teleshetsky, the Post reported last Friday that a probe into Joe Biden came “in response to a court order, after an appeal for action by Shokin” back in January.
“They need to investigate this. They have no other alternative. They are required to do this by the decision of the court. If they don’t, then they violate a whole string of procedural norms,” Teleshetsky told the Post.
Ukraine’s State Bureau of Investigations confirmed that the Eastern European country had launched an inquiry into Joe Biden.
According to the Post, the case does not explicitly refer to Biden by name. It refers to Biden only as a U.S. citizen.
In October 2019, Ukrainian prosecutor general Ruslan Ryaboshapka announced that the Eastern European country would audit all previous cases linked to Burisma.
While his father was in charge of U.S. policy towards Ukraine as the former VP, Hunter began serving on Burisma’s board of directors despite having no experience in energy matters, prompting allegations that he was using his father’s position for financial gain.
Echoing the intelligence community “whistleblower” complaint that triggered Trump’s impeachment, Democrats seeking to remove the U.S. president argued that on July 25 the American commander-in-chief made a quid pro quo offer to Zelensky to launch an investigation into the former vice president and his son in exchange for American military aid.
Ukraine, Trump, and some impeachment probe witnesses denied the allegation.
The Bidens have also denied any wrongdoing, claiming that Shokin’s removal was not the result of unilateral action directed by Joe Biden.
Shokin, however, claims he was ousted because he wanted to investigate Hunter’s role on the board of Burisma.
Trump and his supporters also assert that Joe Biden improperly used his position as vice president to coerce Ukraine into firing Shokin to protect his son from a probe into Burisma.
Individuals from inside and outside the Obama administration warned of a conflict of interest stemming from Hunter’s position within Burisma while Joe Biden was in charge of U.S. policy towards Ukraine.
In 2015, Joe Biden’s office dismissed concerns raised by an official from the U.S. State Department that Burisma was corrupt.