Washington is all aflutter over an alleged quid pro quo deal that President Trump is rumored to have tried to strike with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky during a routine phone call on July 25. The story goes that Trump tried to pressure Zelensky to investigate Hunter Biden’s allegedly corrupt business dealings in exchange for continuing foreign and military aide.
This evidence-free accusation started Democrats fulminating about impeachment for pressuring a foreign power to dig up dirt on the son of a possible Democratic nominee. Of course, they have kept their ire firmly under control when it comes to Obama CIA Chief John Brennan enlisting the assistance of several foreign intelligence services and operatives to try to derail the 2016 Trump campaign. And let’s not forget when the Democratic National Committee also pressured Ukraine to look for dirt on candidate Trump.
Perhaps Democrats see the Ukraine conspiracy as a way to jump-start their sputtering moves towards an election-year impeachment, which would constitute an unprecedented threat to democracy. The Democrats know better than American voters, right? Or maybe they are rushing to defend party establishment favorite Joe Biden, whose campaign was imploding even without questions about how he helped his (unqualified) son’s sketchy overseas business dealings. Or maybe this whole story was born of the willingness of anti-Trump partisans and the press to believe absolutely any nutty story that emerges from the bowels of the anonymous deep state.
It’s not as though President Trump would think that he could simply speak openly to a foreign leader about widely reported foreign corruption. He knows from grim experience that his international calls are not secure. There is no privacy on the receiving end, since any communication by any head of state with the President of the United States will be recorded, analyzed and debated by the receiving country, as well as by any foreign intelligence service that picks it up.
And the president also knows that he is under surveillance from hostile domestic actors. The contents of any phone call he makes can potentially be leaked by disloyal deep-staters and mischaracterized by the media. In this case, even CNN admitted that the supposed “whistleblower” did not have firsthand knowledge of the information on the phone call or see the transcript. Much of the speculation is rumor dressed up as news, which is par for the course in the Trump era, and the reason why trust of the press is at record lows.
One beneficial effect of the flap is that it is forcing the reluctant press to examine the issue at hand, namely whether Joe Biden used the office of the vice presidency to help further his son’s business enterprises. There is no reason to believe that if Hunter Biden’s name was Hunter Smith, and that if he was not hitching rides with his dad on Air Force Two, he could have landed his big payday from Ukrainian natural gas giant Burisma Holdings, or pull in a $1.5 billion deal with the Bank of China. His good fortune is wholly connected to the fact that his father was the vice president. He is a product of Biden privilege. Joe and Hunter know how to sell the brand.
This issue was covered in the past by major media, particularly in the lead-up to the 2016 campaign when Biden was considering running and friends of Hillary were trying to dissuade him. But with Biden as the great moderate hope for 2020, the story of nepotism and international corruption was no longer considered news. Fancy that.
Ukraine’s lead prosecutor says none of their laws were broken, and that Americans should focus on whether U.S. tax or money laundering laws were broken.
This was the issue former New York City Mayor and Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani raised, citing a $3 million transfer to Hunter through Latvia and Cyprus. The Obama administration blocked Ukrainian investigators from looking into the questionable money flow. John Kerry’s stepson Christopher Heinz found Hunter’s deal with Burisma so problematic that he severed their business relationship, when the two were co-owners of the private equity firm Rosemont Seneca Partners.
And Peter Schweizer, president of the Government Accountability Institute, minutely investigated the sweetheart deal with the Bank of China in his 2018 book “Secret Empires: How the American Political Class Hides Corruption and Enriches Family and Friends.”
Phase III of the anti-Trump coup rolls on. Let’s see if House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has the guts to actually hold an impeachment vote in the House on her unilateral announcement of an “official inquiry” — whatever that means.
Chris Farrell is director of investigations and research for Judicial Watch, a nonprofit watchdog group. He previously worked as a counterintelligence case officer.
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.