Raymond A. Hult: The details of Ukrainian quid pro quos clear the Bidens

(Ng Han Guan | AP file photo) Then-U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, left, waves as he walks out of Air Force Two with his granddaughter Finnegan Biden and son Hunter Biden at the airport in Beijing, China, in December 2013.

In general terms, President Trump claims that Joe and Hunter Biden were corrupt in their dealings in Ukraine. Former Vice President Biden claims no such thing ever occurred.

My experience is that most Democrats and Republicans I talk to know very little of the details involving this contentious back and forth. For this reason, I’ve done some research to try to figure out the details involving both sides of this potentially pre-election defining squabble.

I believe Biden has the best chance to defeat Trump and I support him. But I would probably change my mind if both he and his son actually engaged in corruption in Ukraine.

I’ll try to simplify what I found out so most voters can hopefully easily make up their own minds about which side they want to take.

Burisma is a Ukrainian energy company with a checkered past. Hunter Biden and other high profile individuals were made board members with the apparent attempt to clean up the company’s sorry image. I’ve found no reason to suspect Hunter had any wrongful intent to do anything except possibly help clean up Burisma’s tarnished reputation. Yes, a monthly stipend of $50,000 might appear a little extreme, but that’s about it.

By the way, Hunter resigned his position as soon as his dad decided to run for president.

Victor Shokin was the Ukrainian prosecutor assigned to investigate corruption, such as money laundering involving Burisma. He was totally corrupt and had no intention of doing any such thing. President Barack Obama assigned Vice President Biden the task of helping to ensure that Ukraine was involved in routing out corruption, including getting rid of corrupt do-nothing officials like Shokin.

During a trip to Ukraine, Biden make it clear a potential $1 billion loan guarantee by the U.S. wouldn’t happen unless Shokin was fired. Low and behold, the firing took place and a new corruption prosecutor, Rustan Rya Boshapa, was installed. There was no request or condition by the vice president that any subsequent investigation of Burisma or Hunter be prohibited.

So what it comes down to is that Trump is claiming that Hunter Biden was somehow involved in the corruption surrounding Burisma and that Joe Biden engaged in a quid pro quo by withholding a $1 billion loan guarantee unless Shokin was fired, to make sure that Hunter wouldn’t face prosecution. This particular quid pro quo was legitimate. It had the effect of promoting the investigation of corruption, including any targeting of Burisma, if warranted. There’s no evidence of any attempt by dad to protect son from becoming a potential target.

What happened after the illegal quid pro quo abuse of power call exerted by Trump is that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was subsequently informed by Trump intermediaries that he was expected to arrange an interview with CNN and announce the initiation of an investigation of the Bidens in order to have the release of funds previously approved by Congress. Caught in a trap of urgently needing the $391 million in aid to arm his military, he reluctantly decided to set up the appointment with CNN and reluctantly accede to Trump’s attempted bribery. How could he do otherwise, already having lost over 13,000 lives in the conflict with Russia?

Thankfully, the whistleblower complaint and subsequent public outrage forced the release of funds without Trump getting the demanded interview. There’s little doubt any further investigation would have resulted in exonerating Biden of any wrongdoing, just as had previously been determined. No matter, the damage would have been done in time to unfairly dirty Biden’s public image and assist President Trump in his reelection bid.

Raymond A. Hult, Bountiful, is a retired FBI special agent with 27 years of multi-state experience working fraud investigations, including bribery and extortion. He is a published author featured by Barnes and Noble/Amazon.

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