Claim: President Trump has repeatedly claimed that Hunter Biden provided inappropriate access to the Barack Obama/Joe Biden administration to the Ukrainian government.
Rating: This claim is FALSE. There is no evidence that anyone in the Obama/Biden administration assisted Hunter Biden in his role as a board member of Burisma, an energy company based in Ukraine. In addition, Trump’s pushing the Ukrainian government to investigate the Bidens was the source of the impeachment proceedings against him.
Hunter Biden is an attorney and the second son of Joe Biden. He joined the board of Burisma, a Ukranian natural gas company in 2014 after a revolution in Ukraine, and was paid as a consultant from April 2014 to April 2019.
In 2015, the pro-Russia government in Ukraine was replaced by a government that sought better relations with both the U.S. and European Union. But this was a problem for Burisma, as they had focused their energy on fostering relations with Russia. As a result, they aggressively sought to recruit board members from Western Europe and the U.S. to rebuild influence with the powers that were more likely to impact Ukranian business.
This relationship was viewed as problematic by both U.S. officials at the time and Hunter Biden in retrospect, because of the potential for the appearance of conflict of interest. There is broad agreement that Burisma was attempting to use Hunter’s connection with his father to get favorable treatment, as it is customary for companies to select board members who can not only advise but provide influential connections.
Was there a conflict of interest?
Despite intense attention from Congress and the media, there is no credible evidence that Hunter Biden attempted to influence the Obama Administration. State Department official George Kent has stated on the record that he saw “none whatsoever” in terms of evidence of wrongdoing. In Congress, a Republican-led Senate report failed to find any evidence of improper influence.
The most common false belief was that Vice President Joe Biden pressured the Ukranian Government into firing Ukranian prosecutor Viktor Shokin to kill an investigation into Burisma. Shokin was fired, but he was fired for not moving aggressively enough to fight corruption in Ukraine. At the time, it was believed that Shokin was actively impeding investigations of Burisma’s founder, Mykola Zlochevsky, who was suspected of corruption and financial crimes.
Joe Biden represented the U.S. in a coalition of countries who threatened to withhold financial aid unless Shokin was fired, because of shared concerns about corruption which would affect Ukraine’s ability to repay debts. It is also important to note that in 2016, three Republican senators signed a letter advocating for the reform of Shokin’s office because of corruption concerns.
On Oct. 14, 2020, the New York Post ran images of emails that claimed to show that Hunter Biden scheduled an in-person introduction between a Burisma executive and Joe Biden. The Biden campaign has stated that this meeting did not happen, after reviewing Vice President Biden’s schedule at the time. There were no additional emails about whether anything happened after that alleged introduction.
The emails came from Steve Bannon and Rudy Giuliani, both Trump allies who are under federal investigation for fraud and campaign finance violations. Notably, both Facebook and Twitter have taken efforts to limit or outright block the New York Post story as it has violated their policies on verifiable news.
No other news outlets have been able to verify the legitimacy of these emails. Notably, the FBI is currently investigating the emails to see if they are connected to a Russian disinformation campaign against Joe Biden. In addition, multiple U.S. intelligence officials have reported that Giuliani “was being used as a conduit for misinformation” from Russia.
Chris Wallace, a reporter for Fox News, has expressed skepticism on air about the validity of the claims. Notably, sources have disclosed that Fox News was originally approached, but declined to cover the story due to concerns about Giuliani’s reliability. Other sources, currently employed by the New York Post, have disclosed that the original author of the article in the New York Post, Bruce Golding, refused to have his name printed on the article because of concerns that the emails were unverified and unreliable.
In addition, Trump’s pushing the Ukrainian government to investigate the Bidens was the source of the impeachment proceedings against him.
We will update this story as new facts present themselves. But at the moment, these allegations of corruption against Joe Biden and Hunter Biden remain FALSE.