Picture the 2020 presidential debate between Donald Trump and the Democratic nominee. The challenger turns to the president and charges: “You asked the Ukrainian president to investigate your opponent’s son’s shady business dealings.”
He adds, “you released the transcript of your phone call last year with him in which you said, ‘there’s a lot of talk about Biden’s son, that Biden stopped the prosecution and a lot of people want to find out about that, so whatever you can do with the attorney general would be great.’
“And then you said, and I quote, ‘Biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution. So if you can look into it, it sounds horrible to me.’”
Finally, arriving at his rhetorical crescendo, the nominee declares victoriously, “Horrible? What’s horrible wasn’t me as vice president using the threat of withholding $1 billion in U.S. loan guarantees that Ukraine needed to stay solvent to get the Ukrainian prosecutor investigating my son’s client fired. No, what’s horrible is a president of the United States using the power of his office to dig up foreign dirt on a political opponent.”
It doesn’t quite work, does it? In fact, it would, if you will, trump Joe Biden’s long history of verbal blunders as the gaffe of all gaffes of the entirety of his four-and-a-half decades in Washington.
Democrats — from high-ranking party operatives to rank-and-file primary voters — know this, which is why the transcript released by the Trump White House on Wednesday dooms Biden’s 2020 chances, not Trump’s.
At The Root Of Trump-Zelensky: Hunter Biden
First of all, Ukranian President Volodymyr Zelensky made it very clear in this July 25 phone call that he was already going to be having his new government investigate Hunter Biden’s client firm, the private Ukrainian natural gas company Burisma; he was not the least bit vague with Trump.
“Since we have won the absolute majority in our parliament, the next prosecutor general will be 100% my person,” Zelensky told the president. “He or she will look into the situation specifically to the company that you mentioned in this issue. The issue of the investigation of the case is actually the issue of making sure to restore the honesty, so we will take care of that and will work on the investigation of the case.”
Zelensky then asked, “if you have any additional information that you can provide to μs, it would be very helpful for the investigation to make sure that we administer justice in our country.”
Indeed, as Zelensky told the assembled press as he met with Trump at the United Nations in New York on Wednesday, “nobody pushed me,” that there was no pressure imposed on him from Trump.
But secondly and more importantly, it will give much more attention to what is at the root of the Trump-Zelensky conversation — Hunter Biden’s continual self-destructive shenanigans and his father’s susceptibility to his son’s wishes.
A New Yorker article in July originally entitled “Father and Son” by investigative staff writer Adam Entous manages to be sympathetic while delivering tremendously damaging information about the son’s money-making and the father’s judgment.
On Hunter’s dealings with a suspect Chinese private equity fund in 2012, Entous writes, “When I asked members of Biden’s staff whether they discussed their concerns with the vice president, several of them said that they had been too intimidated to do so. ‘Everyone who works for him has been screamed at,’ a former adviser told me. Others said that they were wary of hurting his feelings. One business associate told me that Biden, during difficult conversations about his family, ‘got deeply melancholy, which, to me, is more painful than if someone yelled and screamed at me. It’s like you’ve hurt him terribly. That was always my fear, that I would be really touching a very fragile part of him.’”
If Joe Biden was that sensitive to candid counsel when he was in his late 60s, how will he be as a 78-year-old president 16 months from now?
In late 2015, according to Entous, “Amos Hochstein, the Obama administration’s special envoy for energy policy, raised the matter” with the then-vice president about Hunter’s relationship with Burisma, “but did not go so far as to recommend that Hunter leave the board. As Hunter recalled, his father discussed Burisma with him just once: ‘Dad said, “I hope you know what you are doing,” and I said, “I do.””
President Jimmy Carter’s scolding of his out-of-control brother Billy’s embarrassing antics working for the government of Libya was tougher than that. In the heat of his 1980 re-election campaign Carter admitted: “I am deeply concerned that Billy has received funds from Libya and that he may be under obligation to Libya.”’
‘I’ll Do Whatever You Want Me To Do’
Entous also offers that “Hunter saw himself as a provider for the Biden family; he even helped to pay off [his late brother] Beau’s law-school debts.” Just how much license did Hunter believe that gave him in generating money?
When the already-married Hunter and Beau’s widow embarked on a relationship, according to Entous, he appealed to his father for a public statement of approval.
“I said, ‘Dad, Dad, you have to.’ He said, ‘Hunter, I don’t know if I should. But I’ll do whatever you want me to do.’” Entous writes, “A former Biden aide confirmed that Biden agreed to issue a statement because of concerns about Hunter’s well-being.”
“Joe to Hunter: I’ll do whatever you want me to do” might well be the Biden presidential campaign’s epitaph.
Entous also tells of “the Chinese energy tycoon Ye Jianming, who was trying to make connections in Washington among prominent Democrats and Republicans” giving Hunter “a 2.8-carat diamond … estimated to be worth $80,000 … Hunter told me that two associates accompanied him to his first meeting with Ye, in Miami, and that they surprised him by giving Ye a magnum of rare vintage Scotch worth thousands of dollars.” In February of last year, the Chinese detained Ye “reportedly as part of an anti-corruption investigation, and the deal with Hunter fell through.”
Amidst all this, and Hunter’s lingering alcohol and drug difficulties, it’s hard to see how Joe Biden’s soft spot for his son, while understandable, won’t negatively affect his judgment as an extremely elderly president. “Hunter said that, in his talks with his father,” Entous discloses, “I’m saying sorry to him, and he says, ‘I’m the one who’s sorry,’ and we have an ongoing debate about who should be more sorry. And we both realize that the only true antidote to any of this is winning.” (Emphasis added.)
Joe Biden as president is the antidote? Disclosure of the Ukraine transcript will more than anything else shine the spotlight on the ongoing fiasco of first son-wannabe Hunter Biden. Chances are most Americans won’t agree with Hunter that his father winning the presidency is the recovery therapy he needs.
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