A sweetener

NBC News looks into the facts about Bidens and Ukraine and money.

As vice president, the elder Biden lead the U.S. diplomatic efforts to bolster the country’s fledgling democracy and root out corruption after mass protests ousted the country’s pro-Russia president, Viktor Yanukovych.

Biden spoke frequently with Ukrainian leaders and in April 2014, he traveled to Ukraine, bringing financial support and warning the Russians — who had recently annexed Crimea — to stop intervening in Ukrainian sovereignty.

That all seems good. But the next paragraphs…

In May 2014, Hunter Biden was hired by a Ukrainian gas company, Burisma Holdings, as a board member reportedly making $50,000 a month. He stopped working with the company earlier this year.

The company had ties to Yanukovych, raising eyebrows among White House aides and others who saw potential for a conflict of interest. The Obama White House said at the time that the younger Biden was a private citizen, and that there was no conflict of interest.

Come on. Of course there’s a conflict of interest! There’s also the matter of appearances. People in government must not only be incorruptible they must be seen to be incorruptible. Joe Biden’s kid taking a wildly lucrative position with a Ukrainian company the same year his father the VP was active in Ukraine does not look incorruptible. It looks, at the very least, like Biden Junior eagerly cashing in on his father’s job – and why would anyone in the administration want that?

I know next to nothing about business and being on boards and so on, but surely 50 k a month is a hell of a lavish salary for being on a board, which I take to be not the same as an actual full-time job? I take it Biden Junior didn’t move to Ukraine? Presumably he just Skyped it in when there were meetings?

And the other point is, why would a Ukrainian company hire some random American lawyer to be on their board? They wouldn’t. They hired a Biden because he’s a Biden. Yes, Virginia, that fucking is a conflict of interest.

It seems we’ve gotten so used to this miserable pay for play routine that we can’t even see it any more. Clinton charged $$$ for access to him when he was president, and bragged about it –  he said money couldn’t buy his vote but it could buy access to him. He said that out in the open, as if it were obviously fair and reasonable and not at all corrupt.

But there’s little evidence he acted to help his son: Earlier this year, Bloomberg News, citing documents and an interview with a former Ukrainian official, reported the Burisma investigation had been dormant for more than a year by the time Biden called for the crackdown on corruption. The then-Ukrainian prosecutor general told the news agency he found no evidence of wrongdoing by Biden and his son. And PolitiFact reported it found no evidence to “support the idea that Joe Biden advocated with his son’s interests in mind.”

Additionally, the most recent former prosecutor general of Ukraine, Yuriy Lutsenko, told Bloomberg he had no evidence of wrongdoing by either Biden.

That’s all good, but it doesn’t make the arrangement okay.

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