Did Joe Biden use his position as vice president to oust a Ukrainian prosecutor that was investigating his son? This is the question President Trump would like discussed.
But, the question that has prompted impeachment is: Did President Trump use his position as President to pressure Ukraine to investigate his political rival?
Important to note: regardless of the first question–whether of not Joe Biden did something unethical or illegal–the second question remains: if President Trump used his position to push for his own gain, it’s probably going to be called “abuse of power.”
Let’s look at just a few points:
the Biden bit
Joe Biden, then vice president under President Obama, was tasked by Obama to crack down on corruption in Ukraine, a country in which bad policies had caused problems globally.
The Ukraine prosecutor general, a loyalist to the former and corrupt Ukrainian president, was in Biden’s crosshairs.
This prosecutor general was accused of slow-walking investigations into corruption. The International Monetary Fund, Great Britain, activists within Ukraine and others were among those who were calling for his resignation.
This prosecutor general, who was pressured by Biden and others, was eventually dismissed.
the Trump angle
President Trump has suggested that–prior to his dismissal– Ukraine’s prosecutor general was investigating Hunter Biden, and that that was the reason Joe Biden wanted him gone.
but, a few facts get in the way of this
Hunter Biden was employed by (actually, he sat on the board of) a natural gas company in Ukraine that was accused of corruptive policies and under investigation by the Ukraine prosecutor general (the same guy Biden wanted gone).
By the time the prosecutor general was told to step down (because he was slow-walking those investigations), the inquiry into the natural gas company had also been stalled.
The prosecutor general who took over told Bloomberg, “Hunter Biden did not violate any Ukrainian laws — at least as of now, we do not see any wrongdoing.” He also talked about a 2013 business transaction that was part of the investigation of the natural gas company. He said, “(Hunter) Biden was definitely not involved. We do not have any grounds to think that there was any wrongdoing starting from 2014.”
the Hunter situation does smell just a little
Although Hunter Biden has not been accused of legal wrongdoing as a result of his work for Burisma (the natural gas company), he made a ton of money sitting on their board. The NY Times reports he was paid sometimes as much as $50,000 per month for his service on the board of the directors.
why is it problematic to make money from being on a board
The amount of money Hunter earned was not out of line with his position. However, the natural gas company, Burisma, was accused of corrupt practices in a country in which his father was trying to change the climate of corruption–which feels like a conflict of interest.
Additionally, Hunter didn’t have experience in the industry making some question whether his father’s name got him the job.
if Hunter had no experience, why put him on the board
The gas company benefits from having an American, and especially one who has access to the president, to legitimize their company, maybe head off investigations.
For this reason, US officials pressured Hunter into resigning.