An appearance of a conflict of interest and a conflict of interest are two different things. One is an absolute reason to recuse one’s self from involvement in a matter. The other makes it look like there is a reason to recuse when there may not be. With Joe Biden, he had the appearance of a conflict of interest in the Ukraine matter now dragging the president down, but he had no actual conflict.
Biden’s son was involved with a Ukrainian company for which he had no experience. Hunter Biden had a pattern of cashing in on his dad’s career. Ukraine wanted to build up ties to the United States and suddenly Hunter Biden gets a very well paying job with a company there.
That company fell under investigation by a Ukrainian prosecutor. Sometime thereafter, Joe Biden went to Ukraine and demanded the prosecutor be fired or Ukraine would not get a billion dollars in foreign aid money. The prosecutor was fired. Republicans suggest Biden had a conflict of interest. Republicans suggest Biden made this demand to protect his son. Republicans are wrong on this one.
At the time Biden went to Ukraine, the investigation into the Hunter Biden-related company had ceased. The investigation had not closed, but it was not a functioning investigation. The prosecutor had abandoned it. Regardless, there are more important facts at play.
Biden, as vice president of the United States, had no power to withhold money from Ukraine. For that matter, Biden had no power to take an official government plane to Ukraine to meet with Ukraine’s leaders to demand the prosecutor be fired. Biden was merely an instrument through which the power of the presidency flowed.
The Western allied powers wanted Ukraine’s top prosecutor fired. They believed he was corrupt and that he covered up allegations of impropriety in the ruling party. They did not trust that western aid dollars would be well spent and they did not trust the prosecutor to investigate misuse of western dollars.
President Barack Obama charged Biden to fly to Ukraine and deliver a message. Ukraine’s president would either fire the prosecutor or not get the aid money he was expecting. As Biden bragged about on video, within six hours of Biden delivering the message, Ukraine’s Parliament dismissed the prosecutor.
Importantly, Biden was the chosen vessel. But it could have been Secretary of State John Kerry who delivered the message. It could have been the American ambassador. Obama, however, asked Biden to do it. The message was going to be delivered — either the prosecutor would go or the money would not be given.
Frankly, I get tired of all the spin on this. I do not think Trump should be impeached over this. But it is ridiculous to attack Biden for what he did. To be sure, there are numerous examples in the mainstream media documenting Biden’s family getting rich by training on Biden’s name. A Ukrainian loaned money to Biden’s brother. Biden’s son got a business deal in China as his father flew there to negotiate for the Obama administration. This particular issue, however, is nothing.
The funny thing about this story is this makes it likely Biden cannot be the Democrat nominee. Though he has no conflict, his presence muddies the story and allows the GOP to obfuscate. Biden did nothing wrong, but if he stays in the race, he gives the GOP a convenient distraction. The president would prefer Elizabeth Warren. He just might get what he wants.
Erick Erickson hosts “The Erick Erickson Show” on radios across Georgia.