Rumors that the Democrats would accept a witness swap, John Bolton for Hunter Biden, are being denied so categorically that Cockburn is starting to think they must be true.
Earlier this week, the Washington Post reported that Democrats on Capitol Hill were ‘privately mulling’ an ‘unusual trade’ in President’s Trump’s Senate trial: allowing Republicans to put Hunter Biden on the stand in return for testimony from John Bolton. The Democrats are desperate to hear from Bolton, the former national security adviser, because he — allegedly — called the efforts to get Ukraine to investigate the Democratic frontrunner Joe Biden a ‘drug deal’ that he wanted no part of. The Post’s story said that in order to achieve this, they would even have been willing to have Biden himself testify, not just his son.
But Biden said yesterday that he wouldn’t take part in the trial. ‘We’re not going to turn it into a farce or to some kind of political theater.’ And of his son, Hunter, he said: ‘No one has suggested my son did anything wrong.’ Actually, that’s not quite true. Enter Oleksandr Onyshchenko, fugitive oligarch, Olympic showjumper, and former Ukrainian MP — and another of the baroque characters on the fringes of the story of President’s Trump’s attempts to get Ukrainian dirt on the Bidens. Last November, Onyshchenko told an obscure German website, Creative Destruction Media, that Hunter got millions of dollars in ‘off the books’ payments when he worked at the Ukrainian oil and gas company Burisma. ‘There were official and unofficial payments to the Biden family.’ He claims this was covered up by the US embassy in Kiev and by ‘other Deep State American government assets in-country’.
Onyshchenko apparently told this story to a visiting reporter from the New York Times but they did not find it convincing enough to publish. He was planning to come to the US to appear on a conservative news channel, One America News Network, but then he got arrested in Germany on a Ukrainian warrant and is currently fighting extradition back to his home country. There he is accused of embezzling $80 million, charges is says were brought only because he fell out with Ukraine’s then president. He published a book saying that his job in the Ukrainian government was to pay bribes to members of parliament, so much money that the cash was carried out in black duffel bags. Cockburn spoke to Onyshchenko several times before his untimely arrest. He said that he did indeed have a story to tell about Hunter Biden — and had in fact told it President Trump’s lawyer, Rudy Giuliani. Other sources said that he had taken Giuliani on as his own lawyer.
Onyshchenko never gave The Spectator — or apparently the New York Times — any evidence of Hunter Biden getting millions in off-book payments. However, the German website Onyshchenko spoke to, Creative Destruction, claimed to have had a leak from the Ukrainian prosecutor general’s office of documents showing bank transfers to Hunter — evidence, it said, of ‘Biden corruption’. One knowledgeable Ukrainian source warned Cockburn to be suspicious or such documents. Ukrainian criminals were producing ‘evidence to order,’ he said, knowing of Giuliani’s efforts to obtain anything that would help his client, the president. (There is no suggestion that Giuliani knew of these efforts.) Another source in Kiev said that the owner of Burisma had put a ‘useful idiot’ like Hunter on the board in the first place precisely because he wanted to demonstrate that the days of fishy bookkeeping and corrupt business practices were behind him. They needed to show they were respectable.
Maybe none of this is true; maybe all of it: there is still much to be uncovered, the evidence has to be tested. Cockburn’s opinion is that this is why the courts ask witnesses to testify — and to submit to cross examination — and it’s a pity that Donald Trump’s trial will probably not hear from either Hunter Biden or John Bolton.