Remember the Ukraine impeachment drama? No? Cockburn can hardly blame you. But believe it or not, less than nine months ago, the Ukraine ‘scandal’ was supposed to be the greatest in American history. Donald Trump was impeached. Mitt Romney gave some embarrassing speech.
Not even a year later, it’s the story never happened. Neither impeachment nor Ukraine were mentioned a single time at the Democratic convention. The party isn’t just tired with the story. They seem earnest about keeping it dead.
But now, thanks to the US Senate, they’ll need an assist from the press.
A newly released report by the Senate Intelligence Committee resurrects the Ukraine story by reviving focus on Joe Biden’s ne’er-do-well son Hunter Biden. To jog your memory, the Ukrainian energy company Burisma paid Hunter around $50,000 a month to fill a board seat he was wholly unqualified for while his father was overseeing US diplomacy in the region. President Trump suggested that, maybe, the Ukrainian president could investigate if such an obviously corrupt arrangement was corrupt. Throughout the resulting impeachment push against Trump, press outlets like Bloomberg dutifully supported Democrats by explaining there was ‘nothing illegal (or even that unusual)’ about the sitting vice president’s son taking a highly paid do-nothing job in a corrupt country on the frontlines of American diplomacy.
The Senate report helpfully points out the imbecility of such claims: of course Hunter’s job was preposterously corrupt, any several people pointed it out at the time. In early 2015 George Kent, a senior diplomat at the US embassy in Ukraine, complained to the White House about Hunter Biden’s Burisma ‘job’. When he was ignored, in 2016 Kent reiterated that Hunter’s job ‘was very awkward for all US officials pushing an anti-corruption agenda in Ukraine’. Another State Department official, Amos Hochstein, warned that Hunter’s position was making it easy for Russian media to attack America’s anti-corruption push in Ukraine.
The Senate report isn’t restricted to Ukraine, though. Hunter, a Navy washout prone to drug benders (though who is Cockburn to judge?), had a remarkable acumen for finding foreign business opportunities. The report highlights millions in payments that Hunter, business partner Devin Archer, and their firms received from wealthy foreign nationals in China and Russia.
Not that the payments were one-way: according to the report, Hunter, who cheated on his wife with his sister-in-law (and then cheated on her with a stripper) reportedly made thousands of dollars in payments to individuals linked with human trafficking and prostitution.
Oligarchs! Millions in secretive payments! Foreign hookers! A passive observer might take this all in and think that Hunter Biden’s foreign adventures are a worthy topic of discussion while his father runs for president.
That passive observer would be wrong, according to the press. Hunter Biden strikes Cockburn as a very interesting figure, yet news operations are suddenly competing to see who can find his exploits least interesting. CNN, the AP, Politico, and CBS all variously dismissed the report as old news, politically charged, or ‘controversial’. The finest headline of all belongs to The New York Times, though: ‘Republican Inquiry Finds No Evidence of Wrongdoing by Biden.’
No evidence? Hunter Biden was paid millions of dollars by Ukrainian, Russian and Chinese oligarchs. In fact, he was paid a lot more than Russia ever spent on the Facebook ads liberals think swung the 2016 election. That’s plenty of evidence. What the Times and others mean is that there is no proof of wrongdoing by Biden. But so what? There was never one shred of proof for the Russia collusion conspiracy theory, but the Times accepted a Pulitzer for hundreds of articles obsessively chronicling that story. They’re still at it to this day.
But don’t expect any months-long investigation into Hunter Biden, now or ever. He’s only a Democrat.