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Putin’s Post-Truth Politics: The Impeachment of Biden is History Rewritten as Farce

The spurious Republican inquiry treads the same treacherous ground of Russian propaganda exposed in the impeachment of Trump

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For months Republicans in the House of Representatives have conducted investigations of Hunter Biden’s foreign business dealings and the alleged involvement of President Joe Biden. Despite finding no evidence of wrongdoing or illegality on the part of the President, Republicans have decided to go ahead and open an impeachment inquiry into the matter. 

This will mean months of hearings by Republicans on debunked propaganda that has been pushed by disingenuous Republican opportunists and Russian operatives. They will allege that Biden profited from his son’s business dealings while he served as Vice President. Specifically, they will zero in on a Ukrainian energy company that Hunter served on the board of. They will claim that Hunter got his father to stop an investigation into the company.


Burisma was a Ukrainian energy company that was owned by oligarch Mykola Zlochevsky, who was the Minister of Natural Resources under Former President Viktor Yanukovych. After Yanukovych left office and fled to Russia, Burisma came under scrutiny from anti-corruption organizations.

 In April 2014, the UK’s Serious Fraud Office blocked $23 million of Zlochevsky’s money after opening a money-laundering investigation into Burisma. Seeking to improve its image, the company went out and hired several high-profile individuals to sit on its board. It retained Aleksander Kwaśniewski, the former president of Poland, as well as Biden and one of his business partners, Devon Archer. 

When Viktor Shokin, the then Prosecutor General of Ukraine, refused to assist the UK in its investigation, Zlochevsky’s assets were unfrozen


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False Accusations

At the core of it, the entire case seems to be based on the central accusation that Biden had Shokin fired to prevent him from looking into Burisma. Yet this is the complete opposite of what actually happened. 

Shokin was not investigating Burisma, despite having very good reasons to do so. His unwillingness to investigate the Burisma case, as well as others, led to near-universal condemnation of his performance. On 29 August 2015, a petition was listed on the Ukrainian president’s website to dismiss Shokin. The petition received more than 25,000 signatures. 

It wasn’t just Ukrainians who wanted Shokin gone, European Union officials did too. One EU diplomat told the Financial Times that “he was really bad news.”

“It was Biden who finally came in [and triggered it]. Biden was the most vocal, as the US usually is. But we were all literally complaining about the prosecutor,” the diplomat said. 

Other diplomats echoed these sentiments, saying that Biden’s pressure came later on, and the former Vice President never mentioned his son Hunter or Burisma.

A former Obama official also told the Financial Times, “the idea that Shokin was investigating Burisma, I learnt that theory for the first time from Rudy Giuliani.” 

Biden went to Kyiv in late 2015 and threatened to withhold $1 billion in loan guarantees if Shokin was not fired, because of his unwillingness to investigate Burisma.

Even several Senate Republicans signed a letter in 2016 urging then President Petro Poroshenko to implement several reforms, including an overhaul of the Prosecutor General’s office. Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson, who has been one of the most vocal proponents of Biden conspiracy theories, was one of the signees.

One month after that letter was sent, Ukraine’s parliament voted to remove Shokin.

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In September 2020, Senate Republicans released a report on Burisma that found no evidence of wrongdoing by Biden. In fact, they even noted that “between 2014 through 2017, despite the concerted effort of many US officials, not one of the three different Ukrainian prosecutor generals held Zlochevsky accountable.”

Despite those conclusions, Republicans have pressed on. In July they had Devon Archer testify before the House Committee on Oversight and Accountability. A close read of his words shows that Archer actually disproves the Republican’s theory.

In his testimony Archer said that he was told that Shokin being fired would not be good for Burisma because Zlochevsky had him under control. 

“The narrative that was spun to me was that Shokin was under control,” Archer said.

Archer later expanded on the phrase “under control,” telling Democratic Rep. Dan Goldman that Burisma was likely going to get a slap on the wrist by Shokin, instead of all of Zlochevsky’s assets being seized. 

Archer also said that he was unaware of any investigation by the Prosecutor General of Ukraine into Burisma. 

Rewriting History

The current attempt by Republicans to impeach Joe Biden is a bit ironic, given that their efforts are a continuation of actions that got former President Donald Trump impeached for the first time. 

Recall that in 2019 a whistleblower complaint revealed that Trump had asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to announce an investigation into the Bidens. Trump threatened to withhold $400 million in military aid if he did not do so. Democrats impeached Trump over the phone call, but most Republicans refused to hold Trump accountable and he was acquitted in the Senate. 

Trump’s infamous phone call was one of several parallel efforts to obtain compromising information on the Bidens. While impeachment proceedings were ongoing in the fall of 2019, Rudy Giuliani and two of his associates, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, were continuing to try and obtain information on the Bidens. Both Parnas and Fruman were eventually arrested and convicted of campaign finance crimes. 

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Parnas has since recanted and gone on to explain his role in the scheme. In February, Parnas authored a piece in Time magazine explaining what his role was.

“Giuliani sent me to collect compromising information that the Eastern European oligarchs had on Hunter Biden’s activities in Ukraine to use against Joe Biden,” Parnas wrote. “It was also my job to convince the new Ukrainian government to announce an official investigation into Hunter Biden.”

Giuliani also met several times with Andrii Derkach – a Ukrainian law-maker the US has called an active Russian agent. Giuliani even went so far as to work with several pro-Russian figures to produce a documentary about the Bidens, although it never aired.

Then one month before the 2020 election, the New York Post published a story about Hunter Biden based on emails that were allegedly obtained from a laptop that Hunter purportedly dropped off at a Delaware repair shop in April 2019. The contents on the laptop have not been fully authenticated, and the backstory of how it came to be left at the repair shop has not been fully explained. Hunter has sued both the owner of the repair shop and a former Trump aide over the release of the materials.  

While the contents of the laptop do not appear to show any evidence of illegality on the part of Joe Biden, Republicans have continued to claim that the elder Biden profited from his son’s business dealings. 

Their latest conspiracy hinges on an FBI whistleblower report where an unidentified individual claims to have had evidence that Biden was involved in his son’s business. The source claims that he met with Burisma officials in late 2015 or 2016 and Zlochevksy claimed that Hunter would take care of any problems. Yet as has been noted, this timeline makes no sense, as Shokin had not been investigating Burisma, and there had already been calls to remove him. 

Yet by releasing the whistleblower report, most Republicans have shown that they are willing to accept any propaganda to go after President Biden. 

The blowback from an impeachment against Biden could have consequences for some Republicans, making a few of them uneasy. Even Colorado Rep. Ken Buck, nobody’s idea of a moderate, wrote in the Washington Post that the impeachment would be disgraceful and based on bogus claims about Shokin’s career. 

Yet in a desperate attempt to keep his place as Speaker of the House, Kevin McCarthy appears set to proceed with impeachment, ensuring that much of the American political news cycle will be dominated by bogus propaganda, just in time for the election. 

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