May 16, 2019

Ukraine prosecutor: No evidence of wrongdoing by Biden or his son

Joe Biden with his son Hunter. Photo: Kris Connor/WireImage

Ukraine's prosecutor general told Bloomberg Thursday that he has no evidence of wrongdoing by former Vice President Joe Biden or his son Hunter Biden, following allegations by President Trump's lawyer of conflicts of interest related to Hunter's work with a Ukrainian energy company.

The backdrop: Giuliani and and other allies have been championing a narrative that Biden improperly tried to influence foreign politics by threatening to withhold $1 billion in U.S. loan guarantees from Ukraine if the government didn't oust former prosecutor general Viktor Shokin — who was allegedly investigating a company with ties to his son. After boasting to the New York Times that he would travel to Ukraine to ask officials to investigate Biden, ethical blowback forced Giuliani to cancel his trip

  • The current prosecutor general said that neither the company nor Hunter were currently the subject of an investigation, but that he planned to share information with Attorney General Bill Barr to check whether Hunter paid U.S. taxes on his Ukrainian income.

Why it matters: The episode has raised questions about whether Trump had abused his presidential authority by asking the Justice Department to investigate his political opponents. In a hearing last month, Barr struggled to answer a question from Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) about whether Trump had ever asked him to investigate an individual.

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Why it matters: Snapchat is taking action on the president's account for comments he made elsewhere. That's going farther than other big tech firms and signals a commitment to aligning content served to users with core values, rather than making moderation decisions based narrowly on each post made on its own platform.

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Esper catches White House off guard with opposition to military use, photo op

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Why it matters: President Trump threatened this week to deploy military forces if state and local governments aren't able to squash violent protests. Axios reported on Wednesday that Trump is backing off the idea for now, but that he hasn't ruled it out.

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Why it matters: U.S. officials are worried that widespread coronavirus testing may provide an opportunity for state-connected companies to compile massive DNA databases for research as well as genetics-based surveillance.