Hunter Biden's Ukraine gig was corrupt, just not in the way Republican conspiracists claim it was

Hunter Biden was getting $50,000/month to sit on the board of Burisma, an oligarch-controlled Ukrainian energy company, a job for which he had no qualifications, apart from his surname, which was part of a concerted effort to launder the company's reputation after the collapse of the regime of the oligarch-friendly, Russia-facing Viktor Yanukovych.

But the prosecutor that Joe Biden got fired was another remnant of the corrupt Yanukovych regime, and he was extremely friendly to Burisma. When he got fired, it was bad news for the company that was paying Joe's sun Hunter $600k/year to rent out the family name.

So Joe Biden wasn't trying to get a prosecutor fired to protect his son. But he was allowing his son to sell his family name to corrupt enterprises to help protect their reputations.

Indeed, the Biden family — like so many politically connected families — have a long and dishonorable history of cashing in on their political connections. Joe's brother, James, courted investors by telling them that "We've got people all around the world who want to invest in Joe Biden…We've got investors lined up in a line of 747s filled with cash ready to invest in this company." (James Biden denies this but multiple sources with no reason to lie confirm it).

Every family has its grifters and problem children: Hunter is clearly one of those, from his expulsion from the Navy after failing a cocaine test to his work with Bohai Harvest RST, who profited by investing in the facial recognition tech that is being used to round up Chinese Uyghurs and send them to torture camps.

Hunter has a long history of trading on the family name to fill his pockets, even when it meant aiding some of the worst people in the world, from his work lobbying for tobacco lawyers to his work on behalf of the credit-card giant MBNA while also running his dad's re-election campaign, to which MBNA was such a major donor that Joe Biden was often called "The Senator from MBNA."

And while Hunter Biden's corruption is distressingly common in DC, it's hardly universal. For example, Bernie Sanders refused to endorse his own son, Levi Sanders, in his Congressional race, because "he does not believe in political dynasties."

Joe Biden — basically Justin Trudeau minus the abs — is a corporate centrist who did his job in Ukraine even while discrediting that job by allowing his son to cash in on the family name to defend a corrupt enterprise. It's the kind of corruption the Trump kids get up to, and it's corrosive bullshit, whether or not it's being done by a (nominal) Democrat.

Running Joe Biden against Trump is a terrible idea: if your pitch is, "Vote for me, my corrupt family isn't as blatant as the other guy," you are already dead in the water.

And then there's Ukraine. In February 2014, Hunter Biden, less than a year after enlisting in the Navy, was discharged for testing positive for cocaine. But a new opportunity was about to present itself: That same month, protesters in Maidan Square overthrew the government of Viktor Yanukovych in Ukraine, sparked by the government's unwillingness to sign an association agreement with the European Union.

The new government leaned heavily toward the West and away from Russia, and a jockeying for wealth and power shook the ruling class. Remnants of the old regime became targets, and one of those was Burisma Holdings, owned by Mykola Zlochevsky, an oligarch and former government official tied to Yanukovych. Regulators in London had seized more than $20 million in cash from the firm amid claims by rivals that it had compiled its assets illegally. Zlochevsky needed Western bona fides, and he needed them fast, so Hunter Biden was brought on board.

The New Yorker article details Hunter Biden's struggles with drugs and alcohol, which included run-ins with the law and stints in rehab. One particularly out-of-control bender, which involved a crack pipe found in a rental car, took place while Biden was making $50,000 a month serving on the board of Burisma. In 2014, he was gracing the front page of the company's website, according to web archives.

Joe Biden's Family Has Been Cashing in on His Career for Decades. Democrats Need to Acknowledge That. [Ryan Grim/The Intercept]

(Image: Ben Stanfield, CC BY-SA, cropped)