Did Joe Biden Go Rogue When He Demanded the Firing of Ukrainian Prosecutor Viktor Shokin?

AP Photo/Susan Walsh

Joe Biden has long bragged about how he threatened to withhold a billion dollars in U.S. aid to Ukraine in late 2015 while he was vice president unless the country’s top prosecutor was removed from office. 

The reasoning has been that Ukraine’s then-Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin was not doing a good enough job with his anti-corruption efforts, but newly uncovered documents from the Obama administration show Biden may have been the only one who felt that way and personal interests related to his son Hunter Biden’s business dealings in the country could have been at play.

On Tuesday’s show, Megyn was joined by Victor Davis Hanson, author of The Dying Citizen, to discuss the revelations and why it could spell trouble for Biden if he faces an impeachment inquiry.

What We’re Learning

U.S. government memos obtained by Just the News via Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests, appear to directly conflict with the widely propagated narrative that then-Vice President Biden was acting in accordance with U.S. policy in December 2015 when he threatened to withhold a $1 billion loan guarantee to Ukraine if Shokin, who was the equivalent of the U.S. attorney general, was not fired.

“Ukraine has made sufficient progress on its reform agenda to justify a third guarantee,” reads a document dated October 1, 2015 that summarized the recommendation of the Interagency Policy Committee (IPC). The task force was created to advise the Obama administration on how well Ukraine was doing in its efforts to tamp down on corruption.

Additionally, memos show senior officials at the State Department sent Shokin a personal note saying they were “impressed” with his work and were in the process of scheduling a January 2016 strategy session in Washington, DC, with his staff. 

At the time of Biden’s threat, Shokin’s office was probing Ukrainian energy company Burisma – which was paying Second Son Hunter some $83,000 a month to sit on its board of directors despite his lack of experience in the energy sector – for corruption. More recently, it came to light that an informant told the FBI Burisma CEO Mykola Zlochevsky told him or her in 2016 that Hunter and Joe “coerced” him into paying them $10 million “to ensure Ukraine Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin was fired.” 

Ultimately, Shokin was fired and the elder Biden bragged about his involvement at a 2018 Council on Foreign Relations meeting. “I said, ‘I’m telling you, you’re not getting the billion dollars,’” he recalled. “I looked at them and said: I’m leaving in six hours. If the prosecutor is not fired, you’re not getting the money. Well, son of a bitch. He got fired.”

In an interview with Fox News’ Brian Kilmeade that aired on Saturday, Shokin said through a translator that he believes the Bidens were bribed. “I do not want to deal in unproven facts, but my firm personal conviction is that, yes, this was the case. They were being bribed.” Shokin said. “The fact that Joe Biden gave away $1 billion in U.S. money in exchange for my dismissal, my firing – isn’t that alone a case of corruption?”

The Trump Factor

In late 2019, the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives adopted two articles of impeachment against former President Donald Trump over claims that he withheld millions of dollars in security aid to Ukraine in order to pressure the government to investigate the Biden family.

Trump was acquitted in February 2020 after the House impeached him, but you may recall that, during the trial, officials testified that while Hunter’s work while his dad was in the White House created the appearance of a conflict of interest, it did not affect U.S. policy in Ukraine. That testimony now appears to contradict previous statements on the matter. 

Based on the documents gathered by Just the News, a top U.S. official in Kyiv told then-Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch at the end of the Obama administration that Hunter’s dealings with Burisma undercut U.S. anti-corruption efforts in Ukraine. 

There is an unmistakable irony, Hanson noted, to these revelations, and it appears to not be lost on the American public. While shopping for a car the other day, Hanson said the salesman, who only knew that he was a teacher, asked him about the situation. “He said, ‘Didn’t we impeach a president of the United States for threatening to delay something and investigate the Bidens, but we didn’t impeach Biden? So, did we impeach the wrong guy for the same crimes that Biden has committed,’” he recalled. 

Hanson said the query is “absolutely brilliant” and gets to the heart of the double standard. “Joe Biden didn’t threaten to delay, he threatened to cancel [aid] unless they fired Viktor Shokin, and he changed U.S. foreign policy against the directives of the State Department memo for his own, I think, [benefit],” he explained. “Then he went after… the leading opponent in the next election – that’s exactly what we impeached Donald Trump for. And I don’t think Trump was guilty of either charge, but Biden surely would be if we would apply the same standard.”

Impeachable Offense?

House Republicans have been floating the idea of opening an impeachment inquiry into Biden as more and more details about his family’s corrupt business dealings emerge, and Hanson said this latest information could be problematic for the president. 

As he explained, “high crimes and misdemeanors” are spelled out in Article II, Section 4 of the U.S. Constitution, but “we only really have two specificities – one is bribery and one is treason.” The “classical definition” of the latter is “warping your national interest for your personal benefit,” Hanson said.

With that in mind, Hanson said Biden could face a tough road ahead. “If he’s impeached and they can prove that… Joe Biden went against the national interests of the United States as reified by a State Department official policy for his own benefit, or the benefit of Hunter, or the protection of his family… and bribery would be part of that,” he concluded, “then you have the two things outlined in the Constitution he violated.”

You can check out Megyn’s full analysis with Hanson by tuning in to episode 617 on YouTube, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you like to listen. And don’t forget that you can catch The Megyn Kelly Show live on SiriusXM’s Triumph (channel 111) weekdays from 12pm to 2pm ET.