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President Donald Trump attends a multilateral meeting on Venezuela at the InterContinental New York Barclay hotel during the United Nations General Assembly, Wednesday, Sept. 25, 2019, in New York. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

What about Biden?

Let's talk about Joe Biden, who some have posited may be the most hurt (though we hardly see how since he's not under a formal impeachment inquiry) in the recent whistle-blower media whiteout.

President Donald Trump, who is the subject of the impeachment inquiry, has falsely claimed that Biden in 2015 pressured the Ukrainian government to fire Viktor Shokin, the top Ukrainian prosecutor, because Shokin was investigating Ukraine's largest private gas company, Burisma — where Biden's son, Hunter, had worked since 2014.

Washington Post fact checker, Glenn Kessler, labeled that "false" Friday, writing: "There are two big problems with this claim: One, Shokin was not investigating Burisma or Hunter Biden, and two, Shokin's ouster was considered a U.S. diplomatic victory."

Biden was among the many Western officials who pressed for the removal of Shokin because Shokin actually was not doing his job. He was not investigating any of the corruption endemic to the country. In September 2015, then-U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt publicly criticized Shokin's office for thwarting a British money-laundering probe into Burisma's owner, Mykola Zlochevsky.

"Shokin was not investigating. He didn't want to investigate Burisma," Daria Kaleniuk, of the Ukrainian Anti-Corruption Action Center, told The Washington Post in July. "And Shokin was fired not because he wanted to do that investigation, but quite to the contrary, because he failed that investigation."

When the younger Biden, now 49, went to work for Burisma in 2014 — just after a February revolution swept the streets — President Viktor Yanukovych, an ally of the Kremlin, fled to Russia. The Kremlin viewed Yanukovych's ouster as illegal, and that March, Russian forces took control of Crimea and then the southeast of Ukraine, dividing the nation.

The Obama administration decried the Russian intervention, and Joe Biden arrived in the country in April as vice president, bearing gifts. A key and long-standing part of U.S. strategy was to champion Ukraine energy independence. But the Russian invasion threatened to cut off part of Ukraine's energy supply. On his visit, Biden repeated a frequent plea that Ukraine's natural gas production be increased, and he announced an aid package designed to enable Ukraine to boost energy production, according to the Post's July story.

"Imagine where you'd be today if you were able to tell Russia: 'Keep your gas,' " Biden said. "It would be a very different world."

As it turned out, the Post wrote, that was a world Hunter Biden wanted to join. The younger Biden told the Post he joined the board of Burisma "to help reform Burisma's practices of transparency, corporate governance and responsibility."

Fast forward five years: As Joe Biden announced in April that he was seeking the presidency, Hunter Biden left Burisma — in part because of Republican whines that his job presented a conflict of interest for his father.

One more thing: Last year, the elder Biden said he had gotten Shokin fired by threatening Ukrainian government officials that he would withhold $1 billion in U.S. aid.

"I said, 'You're not getting the billion,' " Biden said.

With plenty of "whataboutism," some GOP pundits have asked how is that different from Trump withholding $400 million in military aid from the new Ukrainian president.

Seriously? Biden was seeking a new government prosecutor who would investigate corruption — even at the company where his son worked. (Burisma's chief executive, Mykola Zlochevsky, had been an official in the government of Yanukovych, the former president who fled to Russia when he was ousted.)

What was Trump seeking? Certainly not anything as high-minded as a Russia foe's energy independence. What Trump wanted was dirt on an election opponent — Joe Biden.

 

Kremlin to Trump: Careful

Careful, Mr. President. Your buddy, Vladimir Putin, was a little put off by the White House release of a summary transcript of your July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, which is now the focus of a U.S. impeachment probe.

According to The Associated Press, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov called the publication of the Trump-Zelenskiy call "quite unusual, when asked Friday if Moscow is worried that the White House could similarly publish transcripts of Trump's calls with Putin, Russia's president.

"We would like to hope that it wouldn't come to that in our relations, which are already troubled by a lot of problems," Peskov said.

 

Paul Ryan's folly

Business Insider and Vanity Fair reported Friday that former House Speaker Paul Ryan believes his new job as a board member of Fox Corporation — think Fox News — will finally allow him to "do something" about President Donald Trump. Do something was described as "rein him in."

"Paul is embarrassed about Trump and now he has the power to do something about it," a Fox executive told Vanity Fair.

Pardon us while we try to stop laughing.

If Ryan had that ability, he'd probably still be speaker, and we'd not be admiring Nancy Pelosi's ability to count votes.

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