Oct 2, 2019

Fact check: What Joe and Hunter Biden actually did in Ukraine

Joe and Hunter Biden in 2016. Photo: Kris Connor/WireImage

President Trump and his allies have made a barrage of allegations and insinuations — some legitimate, others fabricated — about the activities of Joe Biden and his son Hunter in Ukraine.

Why it matters: The president’s defenders and opponents have used a similar set of facts to shape wildly different narratives on this issue. As a result, there has been much confusion over whether Trump’s leading 2020 challenger is being unfairly maligned or has something to answer for.

Hunter Biden’s work:

  • True: Beginning in 2014, Hunter Biden served on the board of a Ukrainian energy company, Burisma, that faced allegations of corruption. He was paid "as much as $50,000 per month," per the NYT.
  • False: His work for Burisma was being investigated by a Ukrainian prosecutor.

Joe Biden’s intervention:

  • True: Joe Biden was the Obama administration's point man on Ukraine while his son was working for Burisma, visiting the country several times from 2014 to 2016.
  • True: The then-vice president did tell Ukrainian leaders they had to fire Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin to get $1 billion in U.S. aid, according to a version of the story Biden himself told in 2018.
  • False: Biden pushed for Shokin's ouster to protect his son.
    • European countries and international bodies had accused Shokin of failing to pursue corruption, including in the Burisma case, and wanted him fired.
    • Biden was also not freelancing for personal reasons — he was pursuing the Obama administration's policy.

The bottom line:

  • True: Hunter Biden’s role with Burisma raised conflict-of-interest concerns at the time.
    • The State Department claimed in 2014 that there was no conflict, noting the younger Biden was a “private citizen.”
  • False: There's evidence Joe Biden committed "corruption" of any sort in Ukraine, as Trump alleges.

Go deeper: Adam Entous' deep look at Hunter Biden in the New Yorker

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