The writer who co-reported a weird New York Times piece about former Vice President Joe Biden and the government of Ukraine has, surprise!, just been appointed spokesperson to Ukraine's new president.
Just one month after that New York Times piece in which Iuliia Mendel questioned Democratic presidential candidate Biden's efforts to oust a Ukrainian prosecutor, she gets a job with the country's new president.
Here's the New York Times' statement:
NYT statement on Iuliia Mendel, one of the co-authors of last month's big Biden/Ukraine story, becoming a spox for the president of Ukrainehttps://t.co/iABza9MeBW pic.twitter.com/dbIvrXoJnr
— Max Tani (@maxwelltani) June 3, 2019
From Max Tani's piece in the Daily Beast about this foul-smelling affair:
[Iuliia Mendel]'s May 1 Times piece detailed how in 2016, then-Vice President Biden successfully pushed Ukraine to oust Viktor Shokin, the country's top prosecutor who'd been criticized by the U.S. as an impediment to corruption reform. The story suggested the possibility that Biden was motivated to push for Shokin's removal because the prosecutor investigated the head of Burisma Holdings, a Ukranian energy company where the veep's son Hunter Biden was a board member.
The story noted that no evidence was found to corroborate the suggestion that Biden intervened to help his son. But Mendel and her colleagues noted how the alleged conflict-of-interest was being pushed by Rudy Giuliani, a top ally of and personal lawyer to President Trump who once claimed on TV that Biden "bribed" Ukrainian officials.
As a result, Mendel's piece was widely criticized by Biden allies and other news outlets. The Washington Post's media critic Erik Wemple highlighted a section of the Times report which noted that the Obama administration actually backed Shokin's probe of Burisma Holdings' owner, Mykola Zlochevsky.
And Bloomberg cast doubt on the Times' timeline of events, noting that Biden advocated for ousting the prosecutor long after his probe into the younger Biden's employer had supposedly become "dormant." Bloomberg also noted that while the Times reported that Ukraine's current prosecutor general had re-opened the investigation into Zlochevsky, the prosecutor general's spokesperson said they had not (A subsequent Bloomberg piece said the current prosecutor general was still investigating Zlochevsky).
Biden's campaign declined to comment on Monday, but in a tweet, the 2020 candidate's senior adviser Symone Sanders admonished the Times.
"The fact that the NYTs acted as a willing agent for the Trump White House's lies and defended the paper's publishing of them, makes this even more eyebrow raising. Have folks learned ANYTHING from the last presidential election?" she tweeted Monday.
Um, this doesn't look good. It's a far bigger problem than that Hope Hicks profile that cause such a freak out. https://t.co/3YCYXZdoNG
— Jeet Heer (@HeerJeet) June 3, 2019