Joe Biden is guilty. No, he is not guilty of breaking a law, at least as far as I know, but he is guilty of a demeaning conflict of interest detrimental to the United States, and he could easily have walked away from it. This is not just another feckless gaffe, some of which, by the way, have more nearly had the appearance of well-practiced tall tales, but a narrative meaning that President Donald Trump is not the only one threatened by the Ukraine mess.
Biden may have to step down as a candidate for president, and if he doesn’t, voters may show him the way to the door. Yes, that could mean Sen. Elizabeth Warren would be the Democratic nominee, an extreme, socialistically inspired enemy of capitalism and lover of major, liberty-devouring spending programs that would wreck our economy. Unlike Trump, her slogan should not be America first, but America third, as in becoming a Third World country. But maybe a Republican, who knows who, could beat her in the general election.
I know, I know that some are saying Biden is innocent and decent and should not be damaged by Trump talking to the president of Ukraine about him and his son. What Trump said was that the Ukrainian president should look into the firing of a national prosecutor who had probed a natural gas company that had the son, Hunter Biden, on its board. This big, wealthy, powerful company had long been seen as the doer of dirty deeds and its criminally suspect owner had had ties with a Russia-supporting Ukrainian president ousted by means of revolution.
Vice President Biden was the Obama’s administration’s point man in the Ukraine and told the government that the prosecutor was corrupt and that he must be fired or it would lose a billion-dollar loan promised by the United States. Ukraine is poor and has been fighting Russian separatists and the man was fired. The action may have been justified, but consider that this lawyer-son had built his career on his daddy’s influence, representing foreign and domestic companies dependent on the U.S. government’s whims and deliberations, and was making $50,000 a month as a director doing what? It is unclear because, as others have noted, he had no background in energy or anything else that would matter, just an interesting last name.
In his phone gab with the Ukrainian president, Trump never mentioned taking away American money meant to help in its military pursuits, mainly the training of soldiers, but he did delay its delivery without explanation. It still got there with no Ukrainian acquiescence in anything. Could it be that the Ukrainian president feared Biden more than Trump? After all, it was possible Trump would just last another year or less in office and that Biden could be the next president and that the last thing this Ukrainian official wanted was a President Biden on his case.
Joe Biden has pleaded innocent to a conflict of interest, but early on he knew what was going on because of newspaper reports, and even though he says he never talked to his son about the issue, his son has said he did. Hunter Biden has said he was a director of the company trying to help it out financially and legally, but it is inconceivable that he did not know he was compromising his father, just as it is equally inconceivable that his father did not know the situation might make the United States look corrupt, too, at least to some.
President Barack Obama is said to have been concerned about the son’s since-abandoned job, and Joe Biden could surely have gone to Obama and said, at least on this matter, he did not want to be a point man, or possibly told his son to behave. It didn’t happen and so you wonder why he decided to risk the worst when other, protective options were at hand.
Jay Ambrose is an op-ed columnist for Tribune News Service.