The House impeachment inquiry into President Biden will focus on his effort to remove Ukrainian Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin and whether he did so to obstruct a corruption investigation into a natural gas company that paid Hunter Biden a $1 million salary each year.
Hunter Biden and his business partner, Devon Archer, started earning $1 million annually from Ukrainian energy company Burisma Holdings in 2014. This coincided with Joe Biden’s role as the Obama administration’s point person on Ukraine.
Archer and Hunter Biden were appointed to the Burisma board shortly after Joe Biden’s visit to Kyiv as part of his diplomatic efforts.
According to Archer’s testimony, their role at Burisma was to help the company expand its business operations, including protecting it from a corruption investigation. Burisma sought influence from powerful individuals in Washington, specifically Hunter Biden’s father, the vice president.
The actions and timeline of Joe Biden, the Obama administration, and Hunter Biden raise questions about whether Joe Biden tried to remove Shokin to benefit his son and Burisma.
The firing of Shokin is now a central part of the impeachment inquiry into whether Joe Biden used his position as vice president to secure lucrative deals for his son and associates, including the $6.5 million paid by Burisma to Hunter Biden and his associates, according to House investigators.
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy announced the impeachment inquiry on Tuesday. The House Oversight and Accountability Committee, in charge of the inquiry, plans to hold the first hearing next week to present the evidence gathered so far, including Hunter Biden’s suspected involvement in Shokin’s firing.
The committee is also seeking presidential and State Department records from the Obama administration to determine Hunter Biden’s role in Shokin’s dismissal.
Shokin took office in February 2015 during Ukraine’s political turmoil and the international demand to fight widespread corruption.
Publicly, Joe Biden had nothing negative to say about Shokin until his private meeting with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko in Kyiv on December 7, 2015.
During the meeting, Joe Biden threatened Poroshenko. He stated that Shokin had to be fired or Ukraine wouldn’t receive the $1 billion in U.S. loan guarantees it desperately needed.
Before Joe Biden’s visit, the State Department praised Shokin for his anti-corruption efforts.
In November 2015, the U.S. Interagency Policy Committee recommended that Shokin had taken enough steps to combat corruption, qualifying Ukraine for $1 billion in loan guarantees.
Joe Biden spoke with Poroshenko in November and reiterated the U.S.’ willingness to provide a third $1 billion loan guarantee, contingent on the progress made in investigating and prosecuting corruption.
A few weeks later, Joe Biden threatened to withhold $1 billion unless Poroshenko fired Shokin.
The firing of Shokin is not mentioned in the readout of the meeting, but Joe Biden later recounted his threat at a forum. He said, “If the prosecutor is not fired, you’re not getting the money.”
Before the Poroshenko meeting, Hunter Biden received a phone call urging him to seek help in relieving the “pressure” from Shokin’s corruption probe. Archer, Hunter Biden’s former business partner, stated that Hunter called “D.C.”, referring to his father.
The call was made from Dubai, where Hunter Biden and the Burisma executives were attending a company board meeting. Burisma’s owner and CFO were present when Hunter Biden made the call.
Joe Biden was familiar with the Burisma CFO, as they had both attended a dinner together in Washington.
There is no direct evidence that Joe Biden acted to remove Shokin on behalf of Hunter Biden and Burisma. Democrats have criticized the Republican investigation, calling it politically motivated and pointing out the lack of evidence.
Prior to his removal, Shokin received both praise and criticism for his performance. The European Commission and the State Department expressed positive views on his efforts to combat corruption.
Shokin’s assets were seized on February 2, 2016, and he was officially forced out of office on March 29, 2016.
The impeachment inquiry will further investigate the actions and motivations behind Joe Biden’s involvement in Shokin’s dismissal.