- Ritzau Scanpix/Keld Navntoft via REUTERS
- Ukraine’s top prosecutor told Bloomberg News this week that he has no evidence of wrongdoing against former Vice President Joe Biden or his son, Hunter, over the latter’s involvement with Burisma Group, a Ukrainian gas company owned by an oligarch.
- In 2016, when he was vice president, Biden pushed hard for the former Ukrainian prosecutor general, Viktor Shokin, to be fired for corruption. At the time, Shokin was leading an investigation into Burisma, whose board Hunter Biden sat on.
- President Donald Trump claims Biden has conflicts of interest stemming from his involvement in the matter, and Rudy Giuliani has pushed the incoming Ukrainian government to pursue investigations into Biden and his son as part of an effort to help Trump’s 2020 bid.
- Giuliani was planning to travel to Ukraine to discuss the investigation with lawmakers, but he canceled the trip amid accusations that he was trying to get a foreign government to meddle in the upcoming US election.
Yuriy Lutsenko, Ukraine’s prosecutor general, said this week that he had no evidence of wrongdoing against former Vice President Joe Biden or his son, Hunter, over the latter’s involvement with a private Ukrainian gas company, Burisma Group, Bloomberg reported.
The development comes after President Donald Trump’s personal defense lawyer, Rudy Giuliani revealed he was planning to travel to Ukraine to press the president-elect, Volodymyr Zelensky, to move forward with two investigations Giuliani believed would be politically beneficial to Trump.
One focused on the origins of the special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation. The second focused on the motivations behind Biden’s efforts to get the former Ukrainian prosecutor general, Viktor Shokin, dismissed in 2016. At the time, Shokin was leading a broad corruption probe into Burisma Group, whose board Hunter Biden sat on.
Giuliani eventually canceled his trip after facing widespread criticism for what appeared to be an attempt to push a foreign government to meddle in the 2020 US election. But Trump and his allies have continued claiming Biden was acting in his own personal interest and was trying to shield his son when he pushed for Shokin’s ouster in 2016.
The former vice president has long said he never discussed the matter with his son and that he only found out about Hunter’s involvement with Burisma from media reports.
Lutsenko said this week that neither Hunter Biden nor Burisma were now the focus of an investigation, according to Bloomberg.
“I do not want Ukraine to again be the subject of US presidential elections,” Lutsenko said. “Hunter Biden did not violate any Ukrainian laws … at least as of now, we do not see any wrongdoing.”
But he added that he is planning to give US Attorney General William Barr details about Burisma’s payments to its board members so the Justice Department can investigate whether Hunter Biden paid taxes on the income.
Giuliani initially defended his planned trip to Ukraine after critics accused him of engaging in conduct similar to what Mueller investigated: working with a foreign government to tilt a US election. “We’re not meddling in an election, we’re meddling in an investigation, which we have a right to do,” Giuliani told The New York Times when he was asked about the similarities to Mueller’s probe.
“There’s nothing illegal about it,” he said at the time. “Somebody could say it’s improper. And this isn’t foreign policy – I’m asking them to do an investigation that they’re doing already and that other people are telling them to stop. And I’m going to give them reasons why they shouldn’t stop it because that information will be very, very helpful to my client, and may turn out to be helpful to my government.”
When Giuliani announced that he had canceled the trip, he blamed Democrats for “spinning” the story and called accusations that he was meddling in the election “ridiculous.”
Lutsenko, meanwhile, wants to stay in his role as prosecutor general. But Zelensky, who will be sworn in on May 20, has said he plans to name a new person to the position.