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

Go deeper

Diplomat told House committees that he flagged Hunter Biden's Ukraine work in 2015

Hunter Biden. Photo: Paul Morigi/Getty Images for World Food Program USA

A top U.S. diplomat told the House committees investigating President Trump's dealings with Ukraine Tuesday that he raised concerns about Hunter Biden's board position at a Ukrainian gas company in 2015, but was brushed off by an aide to former Vice President Joe Biden, reports the Washington Post.

Why it matters: George Kent's testimony is "the first known example of a career diplomat who raised concerns internally in the Obama administration" about Hunter Biden's work, writes the Post.

Go deeperArrowOct 18, 2019

Hunter Biden defends his Ukraine work

Hunter Biden defended his work in Ukraine during an interview with ABC News that aired Tuesday, but admitted that he probably would not have been named a board member of natural gas company Burisma Holdings in 2014 had his father not been serving as vice president.

Go deeperArrowOct 15, 2019

Biden: "My son did nothing wrong. I did nothing wrong"

Former Vice President Joe Biden backed son saying at Tuesday's debate that they did not do anything wrong in Ukraine during his vice presidency.

"My son did nothing wrong. I did nothing wrong. I carried out the policy of the United States in rooting out corruption in Ukraine. That's what we should be focusing on. What I wanted to make a point about, and my son's statement speaks for itself. What I think is, we focus on why it's so important to remove [President Trump] from office."
— Former Vice President Joe Biden
Go deeperArrowOct 16, 2019