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In recently released transcripts of a phone conversation between President Trump of the United States and President Zelenskyy of Ukraine, President Trump makes the following statement:

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.

Is this an accurate summary of what happened?

  • Is this one of those "push poll" type questions? – No Grabbing Oct 9 at 2:50
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    @NoGrabbing what do you mean? – DenisS Oct 9 at 17:13
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Yes, Biden used economic pressure to oust Prosecutor Viktor Shokin.

No, Biden did not do so to protect Burisma. If anything, the opposite is true.

A Timeline

2002: Mykola Zlochevsky co-founds Burisma Group, an energy holding company.

2009-Jun: Hunter Biden, Christopher Heinz (John Kerry's stepson) and Devon Archer form Rosemont Seneca Partners, a consulting firm.

2010-2012: Zlochevsky is Minister of Ecology & Natural Resources under Viktor Yanukovich.

2013-2014: Yanukovich removed from office. New government investigates whether former officials used their positions for profit, including Zlochevsky.

2014-Apr: Russia attacks Ukraine. Biden pushes for direct military aid, but Obama demurs.

2014-May: Burisma seeks foreign members for board of advisors, including Aleksander Kwasniewski (former President of Poland) who recruits Devon Archer & Hunter Biden.

2014-mid: Obama & Biden recognize Hunter's position as a potential conflict of interest.

2014-Dec: USA pushes Ukraine to assist UK investigation of Zlochevsky.

2015-Sep: US Ambassador criticizes Ukraine for not doing enough to investigate Zlochevsky.

2015-Dec: Biden demands removal of Prosecutor General Shokin before IMF aid is released.

2016-Feb: Bipartisan Congressional group (including Republican Senators Ron Johnson, Mark Kirk, and Rob Portman) publishes letter urging Ukraine to reform Prosecutor General's office.

2016-Mar: Ukraine removes Shokin. "The whole G-7, the IMF, the EBRD, everybody was united that Shokin must go, and the spokesman for this was Joe Biden".

2017-2019: Giuliani & Trump pressure Ukraine to investigate Biden & Burisma.

Note: The Burisma investigations (or lack thereof) all focus on 2013 and earlier, before Hunter Biden joined the firm.

  • It's kind of ridiculous that those that argue that the removal of Shokin would usher in some kind of mega prosecutor that would go after prosecution like Batman in Arkham, when in reality what happened is this ended the investigation of Burisma indefinitely if not forever. Totally arguing in bad faith. – K Dog Oct 7 at 17:53
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    @KDog The investigation into Burisma was already going nowhere, and given Shokin's record of ignoring corruption, he may have had something to do with that. Regardless, the point is that Shokin was not a threat to Hunter Biden, therefore Biden Sr. would have no reason to remove him to protect Biden Jr. And that, even if he did, the rest of the world was already calling for Shokin's removal anyway. – Harabeck Oct 7 at 22:09
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    @KDog Arkham was an insane asylum. There was no prosecution there. The prosecutor for Gotham was Harvey Dent, not Batman. – Acccumulation Oct 8 at 22:16
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The US desire to have Shokin removed was echoed by the EU. He was viewed as either incompetent or himself corrupt (note, this source is generally considered conservative to right-wing). (See also Washington Post)

It also fails to mention that the investigation into Hunter Biden's company was either reported to be stalled or abandoned already, at the time Shokin was dismissed. Whether that is because there is nothing corrupt about it, or because Shokin didn't prosecute even corruption he wasn't involved in, has probably not been determined. The current Ukrainian government seems to think there was no corruption (source is left-liberal and anti-Trump).

[EDIT 9/26 evening: added link on report that Shokin’s investigation into the Burisma company was not active at the time he was dismissed.]

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – Sklivvz Sep 28 at 14:33
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Biden bragged about getting a prosecutor (Viktor Shokin) fired, by threatening to withhold aid to Ukraine. A video and transcript are available here:

I remember going over and convincing our team, others, to convince that we should be providing for loan guarantees. And I went over, I guess, the 12th, 13th time to Kiev. And I was supposed to announce that there was another billion-dollar loan guarantee. And I had gotten a commitment from Poroshenko and from Yatsenyuk that they would take action against the state prosecutor. And they didn’t.

So they said they had—they were walking out to a press conference. I said, nah, I’m not going to—or, we’re not going to give you the billion dollars. They said, you have no authority. You’re not the president. The president said—I said, call him. (Laughter.) I said, I’m telling you, you’re not getting the billion dollars. I said, you’re not getting the billion. I’m going to be leaving here in, I think it was about six hours. I looked at them and said: I’m leaving in six hours. If the prosecutor is not fired, you’re not getting the money. Well, son of a bitch. (Laughter.) He got fired. And they put in place someone who was solid at the time.

Biden did not say that the prosecutor was investigating or prosecuting Biden's son.

However, according to an April 2019 article the prosecutor Shokin is quoted as saying that before being fired he had specific plans for:

interrogations and other crime-investigation procedures into all members of the executive board, including Hunter Biden

See also this May interview of Viktor Shokin. According to a google-translation:

[question] That is, the Americans imposed Sakvarelidze on you? And he was a conductor of their interests?

[answer] Partly so, but not of America’s interests, but of Biden’s personal interests (I share this clearly). Specifically, it was Biden who stood behind all this. Then Biden landed here "landing" of such managers who are personally indebted to him and are on his content and contentment. Everyone knew about it.

In other words, David Sakvarelidze was installed as deputy prosecutor in February 2015, and Shokin is saying that Sakvarelidze served Biden's personal interests. This is about 1 year prior to Shokin being forced out by Biden.

The interview continues:

[Question] That is, in the "Burisma case" the prosecutors were not going to "turn on the back"?

[Answer] “No, we were going to interrogate Biden Jr., Archer, and so on.”

Overall, yes Biden bragged about threatening to withhold aid in order to get a prosecutor fired, but there is no proof that Biden's son was the reason for this coercion. Shokin says that Biden acted based upon Biden's personal interests, but others insist that Biden acted out of general EU, US, and/or IMF interests.

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    Downvoted because the statement as quoted is simply a recital of facts, not bragging. – jamesqf Sep 28 at 17:38
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    @jamesqf so you consider that the prosecutor is factually a bitch’s son? – DavePhD Sep 28 at 17:56
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    @jamesqf It's pretty obvious that the "recitation of facts" here is bragging. – reirab Sep 28 at 18:33
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    @jamesqf Whether you believe Trump's assertion that he was bragging specifically about getting his son off or not, he's clearly bragging about how him putting pressure on Ukrainian officials got the prosecutor fired. Hence his exclamation and the crowd's laughter cited in the quote. Clearly, the crowd understood his meaning. And Dave's question to you was rhetorical. – reirab Sep 29 at 3:05
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    @jamesqf I think we are in agreement; Biden is using the phrase "well son of a bitch" purely as bravado, trash talk and bragging, not to factually characterize the prosecutor's mother. Any native English speaker who actually listed to the audio recording of Biden would understand that he is bragging. – DavePhD Sep 29 at 3:08

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