The Biden Ultimatum

...or is it "The Biden Identity" or "The Biden Supremacy" or "The Biden Whatever"?

The Biden Ultimatum
So that whole confused old guy stuff was a clever ruse?

With apologies to Jason Bourne, I made a promise to a loon on Facebook and now, I guess I have to pay up and write about the accusations about Joe Biden that have a lot of GOP knickers in a twist. But, first an addendum to my explanation last week about the Trump documents indictment.

I have heard a number of commentators refer to the "Clinton Socks Case." I know, I had to look it up, too. This involved some tapes of conversations between President Clinton and author Taylor Branch that resulted in Branch's book, "The Clinton Tapes, Conversations with a President."

These were tapes, as the title implies, wherein the author talked with Bill about his presidency, and when Clinton left said presidency, he kept his copy of the tapes as part of the "personal papers" exception to the Presidential Records Act. And the legend is, they were in a dresser drawer at his home. Not sure if socks were really also in there, or if it had anything to do with Chelsea's cat "Socks" who died the previous year. I sincerely hope not as that would be messy.

Well, Tom Fitton, the head of a conservative group called Judicial Watch, and the non-lawyer who advised President Trump that he didn't have to give anything back, sued in 2010 to have the tapes turned over to the National Archives. Note, this was a good decade after Clinton left office. Judge Amy Berman Jackson told him to go pound sand, since the court had no authority to force the Archives to designate any record as presidential. And besides, a reasonable person, (I am using air quotes here,) would no doubt conclude that talking to your biographer is not a document that is a product of your job as President.

So, that out of the way, what about the accusations against the current occupant of the White House? According to what I hear on the radio and in the House of Representatives, Benedict Biden is on the take from a nefarious but unidentified Dr. Evil and did it all to save the hide of his pretty much useless offspring Hunter.

"So, Hunter's out of coke and needs some cash?"

It stems, best we can tell, from a trip that the then Vice-President Biden made to Ukraine in 2014. He traveled to Kyiv as vice president and warned Ukraine’s then-president, Petro Poroshenko, that the U.S. would withhold $1 billion in loan guarantees until Ukraine removed its prosecutor general, Viktor Shokin. The story goes, and someone apparently told an FBI informant, that Biden got $5-million to get the prosecutor off the back of the Burisma energy concern on whose board sat Hunter Biden, the VP's wayward son. Also on the board were former Bush and Kerry advisors and the former President of Poland.

I know, I look like human photoshop, right? 

Burisma was founded by an oligarch named Mykola Zlochevsky and it is presumed in this tale that he is the one who paid the VP to lay off. Instead, a man named Vitaly Yarema was named prosecutor, he tightened the screws and Zlochevsky decided on a change of scenery and fled Ukraine for Cyprus where the company is actually headquartered. He has purchased Cypriot citizenship and lives in exile there.

So, here's what the spinners of this tale want you to believe. The Veep got on to Air Force 2, flew to Ukraine, strong-armed the President of the country to take the heat off his kid's meal ticket, got paid handsomely for it, and flew home all on his own. Oh, and later talked about it in public at a foreign policy forum. And, one gathers, his boss, the President, was none the wiser. Picture Mike Pence doing this, or Al Gore. It would be the most brazen act since Cybill Shepherd cut an album of Cole Porter songs.

She did, by the way, and it will make your ears bleed.

Man, did she ever. 

Here are some of the several problems with this story. Firstly, everyone wanted him to do this. The President sent him there. The EU and the World Bank also wanted the corruption in Ukraine cleaned up before any more money flowed there. Shokin, the prosecutor, was widely known to be on the take, and the only problem with him and Burisma was that he wasn't cracking down on them. Biden was told to tell President Poroshenko that we and the Europeans wanted a real prosecutor who would tackle the Burismas of the world with an honest investigation, the aforementioned Vitaly Yarema. That, of course, is the opposite of the story being told by his accusers now. If our Cypriot buddy Mykola Zlochevsky paid $5-mill for that, he was screwed.

Joe Biden, apparently so befuddled, he confesses his Ukraine trip. You know, the secret one he hid from the President.

The United States did publicly withhold government aid to pressure Ukraine into removing the corrupt prosecutor, in accordance with the official and bipartisan policy of the federal government of the United States, the European Union, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, all of whom were delighted with the results. It wasn't secret and it wasn't Biden's doing.

Can I repeat the word Bipartisan here since the prevailing sentiment among Republicans in Congress at the time was that Ukraine was a corrupt money pit. A letter was sent by Republican senators to President Obama calling for prosecutor Shokin to be fired. It was sent two months before that happened and was signed by some members of what is now the "Freedom Caucus," most prominently, Senator Ron Johnson.

The alternate version of the story was first floated during the Trump administration and was traced back to a guy named Andreii Derkach, a former Ukranian politician and now known to have been a Russian agent.

"Oh, come on. Do I look like someone you can't trust?"

Derkach released snippets of a supposed conversation between Joe Biden and Poroshenko, in which Biden linked loan guarantees to the ouster of Viktor Shokin, the country's corrupt and ineffective prosecutor general.  The recordings, which were not verified as authentic and appeared to be heavily edited, did not provide evidence to support the ongoing conspiracy theory that Biden wanted the prosecutor fired to protect his son. In June 2020, Poroshenko denied that Joe Biden ever approached him about Burisma and characterized the recordings as fake.

A joint investigation by two Republican Senate committees released in September 2020 did not find wrongdoing by Joe Biden, nor did a Republican House Oversight Committee investigation by May 2023

In September 2020, while President Trump was still in office, the United States Department of the Treasury sanctioned Derkach, stating he "has been an active Russian agent for over a decade, maintaining close connections with the Russian Intelligence Services". The Treasury Department, Trump's Treasury Department, added that Derkach "waged a covert influence campaign centered on cultivating false and unsubstantiated narratives concerning U.S. officials in the upcoming 2020 Presidential Election," including by the release of "edited audio tapes and other unsupported information with the intent to discredit U.S. officials".  And of course, helping spread the narrative was America's Mayor, Rudy Giuliani.

I just couldn't bring myself to post the "hands down the pants" photo. 

Fact-Check.Org wrote this in their analysis...

In one of several stories on Hunter Biden, the New York Post wrote about a “smoking-gun email” that it claims proves the Democratic presidential nominee helped his son and Burisma. The story is based on a photo of an email that Vadym Pozharskyi, an adviser to the board of Burisma, allegedly sent to Hunter Biden.

There's no actual evidence that this is authentic or that this meeting took place, and Biden's top advisor on Ukraine says it didn't. As for the $5-mill, Joe Biden's tax returns going back 25 years are in the public record.

Now, I'm willing to stipulate here that should anyone come up with some actual evidence, I'd be eager to look at it. But all of this flows from a single sheet of paper. Republicans say the story comes from an internal law enforcement document, known as an FD-1023, which details an interview conducted with a confidential informant relaying something he was told. It isn't evidence, except that they talked with someone. We don't know who the someone is. We have no proof but the story itself. It happened during the Trump Administration, included no extra evidence and no further action was taken.

That's it. Now there is talk of tapes, but if they are referring to the ones I mentioned earlier, take that for what it's worth. But now we are getting breathless descriptions of Joe Biden as the most conniving, corrupt President ever, and here I thought he was actually an enfeebled old man who can't find his way to the john.

The most devious international manipulator in US history. 

This is the sad product of the modern trend of taking a scrap of rumor and treating it as incontrovertible fact. Another example would be the so-called "Steele Dossier" which began as a Republican dirt-digging operation on Trump, but was eagerly taken over by the Democrats. It had precious little in the way of actual proof, but makes for a wonderful talking point, and now we all know, of course, it is gospel.

That last line was irony, by the way, for the dimmer members of the class.

Yeah, me again.

Speaking of whom; people like, <sigh,> Marjorie Taylor Greene are therefore calling for Biden's impeachment along with FBI Director Christopher Wray. Based on this anonymous piece of paper. She did it again Sunday morning in an "interview" with the one person at Fox who still believes the Dominion voting machine story, Maria Bartiromo.

But, that is politics today, and it's only intensified by social media. Rumor becomes fact in a twinkling and thus we all know that Joe sniffs women's hair, Trump had hookers pee on a bed the Obama's slept in, and Michelle Obama is really a dude. Seriously, that is a meme out there in Wackoville.

So, we have the Trump indictments to follow, whatever may come of the January 6th investigation, the Georgia election interference case, oh, and of course, the flutter I feel deep in my gut over the Ken Paxton impeachment circus coming to a Texas Senate near you. No doubt, you can add this Biden/Ukraine stuff to the list since the House will no doubt waste a lot of time in hearings on this thing. And I propose a drinking game. Every time someone uses the word du jour, "Weaponize," do a shot. You'll be sloshed in the first half hour. If we add "Woke," you won't make it that far.

It's going to be a fun summer.

Roger Gray has toiled at the journalism trade since 1970 and his first radio news job at KTRH in Houston. Over those woefully misspent years, he has worked in radio, TV and written for magazines. He was twice elected President of the Texas Automobile Writers Association and was elected to the Texas Radio Hall of Fame. He covered the first Persian Gulf War, the fall of the Berlin Wall, the reunification of Germany, Oslo Accords in Israel and peace talks in Ireland. He interviewed writers, actors, politicians and every President from Ford to George W, and none of them remember him.
Now, he is part of the Texas Outlaw Writers, and if this doesn't pan out, the outlaw part will still work as he will indeed resort to robbing banks.