Impeachment hearings tear down Trump’s argument about Biden

Updated

Last week, George Kent, the deputy assistant secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs at the State Department, covered a lot of ground during public impeachment hearings, but it was of particular interest to hear Kent reject the idea that Joe Biden acted improperly in Ukraine. As the Wall Street Journal reported:

The central allegation is that Mr. Biden pressured Ukraine to fire Viktor Shokin from his job as prosecutor general of Ukraine in order to shield the energy company Burisma from scrutiny. Mr. Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, was a board member of Burisma at the time.

Asked if there is any truth Mr. Trump’s theory that Mr. Biden asked to protect his son’s interests, Mr. Kent replied: “None whatsoever.”

Mr. Biden did push for Mr. Shokin’s removal. However, that was broadly in line with the policy of the United States and its international partners, who saw Mr. Shokin as insufficiently aggressive on corruption. Asked if Mr. Biden acted in the interests of the United States in pursuing policies in Ukraine, Mr. Kent replied: “He did.”

Yesterday, as the Associated Press reported, former special envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker – invited by Republicans to testify – also rejected Biden-related “conspiracy theories” peddled by the right.

Kurt Volker said he has known Biden as an honorable man for more than two decades, rebuffing debunked corruption allegations that Trump is said to have wanted the Ukrainians to investigate in exchange for military aid to hold off Russian aggression.

“The allegations against Vice President Biden are self-serving and non-credible,” Volker declared.

Given the larger context, this was no small assertion: the “allegations” Volker was publicly dismissing as nonsense have come directly from the Oval Office.

Indeed, this entire line of inquiry has brought great clarity to a key element of the Republican case.

To hear Donald Trump and his cohorts tell it, Biden is “corrupt” and was caught engaging in an unforgivable scheme in Kiev. Indeed, Trump has described this as something that deserves thorough investigation – it’s one of the “favors” he expected Ukrainian officials to pursue in exchange for American support.

The latest congressional hearings, however, have featured officials from the Trump administration publicly destroying one of the president’s principal talking points.