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Current Events

Connecting The Dots

The basics on the American President’s phone call to Ukraine and why it matters.

Current Events

Backstory

  • 2013: Protestors in Ukraine take to the streets against a pro-Russian president, who – by taking money from Russia – seems to be pulling Ukraine away from the EU & U.S.
  • 2014: Protests turn deadly. Pro-Russian president ousted; Russia invades Crimea. Obama admin sanctions (penalizes monetarily) Russia for seizing Ukrainian territory.
Current Events

The Bidens

  • As VP, Joe Biden took on an active diplomatic role in Ukraine.
  • 2014: His son, Hunter, joins board of a natural gas company with Russian ties; reportedly earns up to $50,000 a month.
  • 2016: VP Biden threatens to withhold aid from Ukrainian gov’t if a prosecutor isn’t fired, alleging corruption; prosecutor at one time investigated Hunter’s employer.
Current Events

“I do not want Ukraine to again be the subject of U.S. presidential elections. Hunter Biden did not violate any Ukrainian laws — at least as of now, we do not see any wrongdoing.”

Ukraine's then-prosecutor general Yuriy Lutsenko this past May. Pres. Trump's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani maintains there's reason to question whether the Bidens had a conflict of interest.
Current Events

Pres. Trump

  • July 2019: Pres. Trump asks to “freeze” aid to Ukraine.
  • During a phone call with the new Ukrainian president, Pres. Trump emphasizes America has provided aid to Ukraine, while others like Germany have not. Ukrainian President agrees.
  • Pres. Trump discussed many issues, including cybersecurity, firing of prosecutor & the Bidens.
Current Events

“I heard you had a prosecutor who was very good and he was shut down and that’s really unfair…There’s a lot of talk about Biden’s son, that Biden stopped the prosecution and a lot of people want to find out about that so whatever you can do with the Attorney General would be great. Biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution so if you can look into it… It sounds horrible to me.”

Current Events

The Whistleblower

  • Intel employee raises concerns about the July 2019 call.
  • Whistleblower did not directly witness call but cites “U.S. officials” sharing information; writes “deeply concerned” about an abuse of presidential power.
  • Complaint alleges White House tried to “lock down” call record. (WH released a rough transcript of call this week).

 

Current Events

Something To Consider

  • Pres. Obama’s administration faced questions about whether Hunter Biden’s job was unethical; they defended his choice of employer as a private citizen.
  • America sent foreign aid to Ukraine this year. Congress learned the White House had put a hold on the aid. Bipartisan lawmakers lobbied for its release.
Current Events

Lingering Question

Did Pres. Trump solicit help from a foreign power to investigate a political opponent (VP Biden)?

Did he withhold aid (money and supplies) in order to force that investigation?

Either/both could be deemed impeachable offenses.

Current Events

Why This Matters: Democrats have launched an impeachment inquiry alleging Pres. Trump abused his presidential power. If he did, it could be considered an impeachable offense. If he didn't, the story effectively ends here.

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Hunter Biden was named a paid board member of Burisma Holdings in April 2014. The company’s founder was a political ally of Viktor Yanukovych, Ukraine’s Russia-friendly president, who was driven out in February 2014 by mass protests.

Yanukovych’s ouster prompted the Obama administration to move quickly to deepen ties with Ukraine’s new government. Joe Biden played a leading role, traveling to Ukraine and speaking frequently with its new Western-friendly president.

The younger Biden’s business role raised concerns among anticorruption advocates that Burisma was seeking to gain influence with the Obama administration. At the time, the company ran a natural gas extraction operation in Crimea, a Ukrainian peninsula annexed by Russia after Yanukovych was pushed from power.

Hunter Biden has denied using his influence with his father to aid Burisma. He remained on the board through early 2019, often appearing at energy-related conferences abroad representing Burisma’s interests.

  • Trump’s Hold on Military Aid Blindsided Top Ukrainian Officials
    https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/22/world/europe/ukraine-trump-military-aid.html
  • Trump denies explicitly tying U.S. military aid to demand for Ukrainian probe of Biden
    https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/white-house-press-secretary-noncommittal-about-releasing-transcript-of-trump-call-with-ukrainian-president/2019/09/23/fec1be30-ddeb-11e9-b199-f638bf2c340f_story.html
    In 2016, then-Vice President Joe Biden traveled to Ukraine to push for the firing of its top prosecutor, Viktor Shokin. On that trip, Biden said the United States would withhold $1 billion in loan guarantees unless Shokin was removed.

    Biden’s push was part of a broader international effort to fight corruption in Ukraine, and Shokin had been accused of ignoring major misconduct. Shokin, at one point, led an investigation into Burisma Holdings. However, the case had been dormant before the prosecutor’s firing, according to former Ukrainian and U.S. officials, and the U.S. ambassador at the time publicly called for the investigation in Burisma to proceed.
    Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee who met with Zelensky in Ukraine in early September, said Monday that the Ukrainian president directly expressed his concern that military aid was being cut off to his country by Trump as “a consequence” of his unwillingness to launch an investigation into the Bidens.