Arguing that President Donald Trump‘s interest in investigating the Bidens was not political but legitimate and prudent foreign policy, former Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi made a case Monday that Hunter Biden‘s involvement in Ukraine appeared to be part of corruption and then-Vice President Joe Biden acted to protect his son.
Bondi’s first turn in the spotlight as part of Trump’s defense team at the Senate impeachment trial placed her on offense, not just against the Democratic House impeachment managers, but also against the Biden family.
While previous White House defense team managers offered broad arguments about what the Democrats have not proven and how they did it, Bondi put on her old prosecutor’s hat and went right after the Ukrainian natural gas company, Burisma Holdings, contending it was so deeply corrupt that the Bidens’ roles not only were suspect but warranted investigation.
“When the House managers gave you their presentation, when they submitted their brief, they repeatedly referenced Hunter Biden and Burisma. … They referenced Biden or Burisma over 400 times. And when they gave these presentations they said there was nothing to see, it was a sham,” Bondi told the Senate. “This is fiction.”
Bondi then used her 31-minute presentation Monday afternoon to detail the timelines of Burisma, its founder Mykola Zlochevsky, Hunter Biden‘s participation on the company’s board, various investigations of Zlochevsky and Burisma for corruption, and Vice President Joe Biden‘s efforts in Ukraine, including getting the Ukrainian government to fire Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin.
That narrative is at the heart of the first article of impeachment against Trump: that he requested, demanded, or pressured [depending on various positions being contended in the impeachment] Ukrainian President Vlodymyr Zelinskiy to investigate what happened with the Bidens.
Democrats have argued that the corruption of Burisma predated Hunter Biden, that Zlochevsky was in exile in Russia when Hunter Biden came aboard, that Vice President Biden sought Shokin’s firing because he was neglecting to investigate not because he was investigating, and that Trump’s interest was entirely in trying to smear the Bidens with the stink of the earlier corruption, at a time when Joe Biden was running for President against Trump.
Bondi laid out the alternative scenario, that Hunter Biden’s exorbitant pay as a board member, $83,333 a month, came while many questions about Burisma remained and those questions never got answered, in part, perhaps, because Hunter Biden’s father got involved.
Along the way she cited the United Kingdom’s Serious Fraud Unit’s actions against Burisma, Ukrainian law enforcement, George Kent, a deputy assistant secretary at the State Department, and various news outlets ranging from ABC News to the Washington Post to the Kyiv Post, all raising questions abut Burisma and Hunter Biden.
This, she maintained, justified what Trump said to Zelinskiy in the July 25 phone call between presidents that sparked the whole Ukraine controversy and impeachment efforts:
“There’s a lot of talk about Biden’s son, that Biden stopped the prosecution, and a lot of people want to find out about that. So whatever you can do, with this attorney general would be great. Biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution, so if you can look into it, it sounds horrible to me.”
She accused Democrats of offering a distraction by claiming that all the suspicions of corruption involving Burisma and the Bidens has been debunked.
“You’ve heard from the House managers that there is not anything to see here; that all of this is baseless,” Bondi concluded. “All that we are saying is that there was a basis to talk about this, to raise this issue.
“And that is enough.”