Corruption

Now that Nancy Pelosi has settled on two really serious impeachment charges, Having Impure Thoughts and Ignoring My Commands, I think we should cast a sidelong glance at the actual corruption that most of us – myself included – wouldn’t have known anything about if not for the Democrats’ mind-boggling use of President Trump’s famous conversation with President Zelensky as an excuse to try to give Trump the old heave ho.

Thirty-five years ago I was offered a bribe. I was a newly-minted bank Vice President at the time, co-head of a group that dealt with media companies. I was having lunch at the Bull & Bear with a guy who owned a couple of radio stations and had an agreement to buy others. He wanted the bank I worked for to lend him the money to do the deal, but I knew enough about the numbers to tell him that for my institution to feel comfortable helping him finance the acquisition he would have to come up with more equity.

He wasn’t taking no for an answer. He mentioned that there would be something in it for me if I got the bank to do the deal. Not wanting to believe that he had meant what I was pretty sure I had heard – he was a naturalized citizen, and maybe his language was imprecise – I acted dense and said, no, we (the bank) couldn’t consider any such arrangement. He kept going anyway, telling me that if I couldn’t accept such a payment directly, surely I had a sister…

Needless to say, that was the last time he ever met with the bank. He didn’t get his deal done, either.

Maybe he should’ve talked to the Bidens.

At this juncture it is our sad duty as citizens to spend a little bit of time thinking about that pitiable, but demonstrably corrupt, family.

I’m not sure old Joe ever played with a full deck, but however many cards he was dealt, some have clearly been lost along the way. And as for Hunter, he’s pretty clearly had a hard time adjusting to his lifelong status as a Democrat Princeling – an early drug arrest, expunged, more drug problems resulting in expulsion from the navy, benders and rehab, multiple family problems of the Page Six variety; hey, who’s to judge? None of us is perfect.

And he did kind of hit the Lotto in 2008. I’m not quite sure what happened that year to dramatically turn his professional life around, but suddenly he felt qualified to found a Global Advisory firm. And the next year, he and Chris Heinz – John Kerry’s stepson, natch – co-founded a private equity firm, in spite of their having no track records in the field. Because that’s a perfectly normal thing to do.

A few years later, while his dad was negotiating a trade deal with the Chinese, Hunter came along (isn’t it heartening to see such family closeness?) and, through the most amazing coincidence, the Chinese thought that that would be a great time to invest in his private equity business! (https://nypost.com/2018/03/15/inside-the-shady-private-equity-firm-run-by-kerry-and-bidens-kids/ ).

And then there’s Hunter’s role with Burisma, the actual subject – in small part – of the famous Trump/Zelensky phone call. Big, private Ukrainian energy company, apparently. Rumors, lots of rumors, of corruption there; but, hey, it’s tough to do business in the old Soviet block.

In 2014, Burisma decides it needs another board member, bringing the total to five as best I can gather from the Internet. Their choice, a fellow with absolutely no experience in the energy industry, or of doing business in Ukraine: none other than Hunter Biden. Now, admittedly, with his lack of relevant experience or knowledge and his well-publicized, all-too-human weaknesses, Biden fils might seem like an odd choice for board membership in a Ukrainian energy company, but what do we know? Not much, apparently.

For example, we don’t know why Burisma paid Biden $3m over the next couple of years while, as The Federalist magazine pointed out by way of comparison, the average ExxonMobil director earns about $350,000 a year. ExxonMobil is about 700 times the size of Burisma, so one might think that its directors would be better paid, but again, what do we know about business?

(Maybe I’m a little bit jealous: I’m on the board of a substantial private company just like Hunter! And it would be awfully nice if that company suddenly decided to pay its directors as Burisma does – or even a fraction as much. Sadly, I rather doubt that that will happen; I guess I just don’t have as much to offer as he did).

And most astonishing of all the facts that, let’s face it, give rise to the stench of Biden family corruption, is this video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UXA–dj2-CY) of papa boasting of having used the leverage of withholding $1bn in US loan guarantees to get the prosecutor who was looking into corruption at Burisma – the employer of his son as a director at the time – fired.

Now there may be an innocent explanation for Vice President Biden’s behavior in insisting that the prosecutor be fired. It’s possible – just barely possible – that old Joe is so stupid that he hadn’t sufficiently connected the dots on his son’s involvement to worry about the conflicts of interest, and that he had other reasons, unknown to us small fry, for wanting the prosecutor fired. In any event, the prosecutor was fired, Ukraine got the loan guarantee and Biden père was quite clearly pleased at how it all went down.

But I have to say that for all his self-evident joy in the exercise of raw power, old Joe’s behavior doesn’t look legit to me. In fact, Trump’s curiosity about Ukraine’s well-publicized efforts to help Hillary in the 2016 election and Burisma’s history with the Bidens seems rather well justified in light of the US/Ukraine treaty (https://www.state.gov/12978) whereby our two nations have agreed to help each other look into bribery and the facts described above. Maybe Trump’s motives were precisely the opposite of Impure.

What I find most incomprehensible about this whole sorry, sordid affair, though, is that Nancy Pelosi thinks she and her party will gain more from the flimsy accusations that she has flung at Trump than it will lose from the spotlight that will inevitably be turned on the Bidens’ casual corruption and the media’s and her own party’s longstanding unwillingness to acknowledge or do anything about it.

Exactly how stupid does she think we are? Deplorably so, I suppose.

M.H. Johnston

One comment to Corruption

  • Ronald Davenport  says:

    A threshold question: when does a vice-president ever set policy? It was the Obama Administration’s policy (and that of the rest of the world) that the prosecutor, Shokin, should be fired for, among other things, not looking into Burisma. When Biden made his quid pro quo “demand” he was speaking on behalf of the Obama Administration and even offered to get Obama on the phone if the Ukrainians didn’t believe him. Further, Biden made his “demand” in December 2015, Shokin was fired by the Ukrainian parliament in March 2016 and the loan guarantees (the “quo”) weren’t approved until June 2016 after several additional reforms were made.
    What did Biden receive in return for this “deal”? Hunter was already on the board of Burisma. While his director fees may have been exorbitant, were the other directors paid the same amounts? In terms of corruption, do you think that Hunter kicked back a portion of these fees to Joe? Seriously? And, since it wasn’t Joe’s policy but Obama’s did Hunter/Joe kick back some of Hunter’s exorbitant fees to Obama? C’mon man.
    In terms of Ukraine helping Hillary, first what did Ukraine do? Second, after the Trump people substantially weakened (gutted) the provisions in the Republican platform in favor of arming Ukraine, are you really surprised that Ukraine might pull for Hillary and against Trump?
    Last, in terms of the purity of Trump’s motives, it is odd that the Trump Administration approved and released funds to Ukraine in 2017 and 2018. The Trump Administration withheld the 2019 allocation notwithstanding the fact that the Pentagon signed off on the release of funds. Is Hunter the only American doing business in Ukraine or are all the other Americans working with Ukrainians that the Trump Administration knows are not corrupt?

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