Rudy Guiliani
Rudy Giuliani campaigned for Trump in 2016 and is now the President’s personal lawyer (Photo: Gage Skidmore, reproduced under a Creative Commons license)

Joe Biden has Don­ald Trump spooked.

The for­mer Vice Pres­i­dent is well ahead of his Demo­c­ra­t­ic rivals in pub­lic opin­ion sur­veys, and is even polling bet­ter than Trump in key states like Ari­zona.

Trump paid more atten­tion to Biden’s cam­paign launch than any oth­er Democrat’s, per­haps fear­ing that Biden’s man-of-the-peo­ple vibe would threat­en the Repub­li­can Party’s only recent­ly-estab­lished grip on indus­tri­al areas in the Mid­west. He (or his staff) was tweet­ing furi­ous­ly as Biden picked up sup­port from fire­fight­ers in Penn­syl­va­nia at the end of April.

Trump has react­ed – per­haps unsur­pris­ing­ly for a man who pro­mot­ed the racist “birther” con­spir­a­cy the­o­ry – by send­ing his favorite attack dog Rudy Giu­liani down the rab­bit hole of an elab­o­rate con­spir­a­cy the­o­ry involv­ing the for­mer Vice Pres­i­dent, his son, and the Ukrain­ian government.

Rudy Guiliani
Rudy Giu­liani cam­paigned for Trump in 2016 and is now the President’s per­son­al lawyer (Pho­to: Gage Skid­more, repro­duced under a Cre­ative Com­mons license)

It’s not the first time Trump has done some­thing like this. Dur­ing the 2016 cam­paign, Trump helped spread many false­hoods and fab­ri­ca­tions about Hilary Clin­ton, accus­ing her of every­thing from fak­ing med­ical records to child sac­ri­fice.

Now Trump is cir­cu­lat­ing non­sense about Biden, hop­ing some of it will stick.

Trump and his cronies are alleg­ing that Biden pres­sured the Ukrain­ian gov­ern­ment to fire the country’s chief pros­e­cu­tor, in order to pro­tect his son, Hunter Biden, who has busi­ness con­nec­tions to a shady Ukrain­ian oli­garch, Myko­la Zlochevsky.

Giu­liani (who has become a laugh­ing­stock on late night tele­vi­sion in recent years) announced – in his capac­i­ty as Trump’s per­son­al lawyer – a trip to Ukraine to “inves­ti­gate” the mat­ter and planned to urge Ukraine’s pres­i­dent-elect, Volodymir Zelen­sky, to open inves­ti­ga­tions against the Bidens.

How­ev­er, on Fri­day, May 10th, Giu­liani abrupt­ly can­celled the vis­it, claim­ing that his meet­ing with Zelen­sky had been a “set up” by “sev­er­al vocal crit­ics” of Pres­i­dent Trump. More­over, he claimed in a text to Politi­co that Zelen­sky was “in the hands of avowed ene­mies of Pres Trump.”

A more like­ly sto­ry is that Giu­liani had dis­cov­ered that he would not find an eager lis­ten­er in Pres­i­dent-Elect Zelen­sky. The for­mer come­di­an and vic­to­ri­ous pres­i­den­tial can­di­date is an anti-cor­rup­tion cru­sad­er and doubt­less knows the real facts of the case sur­round­ing Joe Biden’s 2015 vis­it to Kiev.

Joe Biden with Petro Poroshenko
Joe Biden pres­sured Ukraine’s then-Pres­i­dent Petro Poroshenko to fire the cor­rupt Chief Pros­e­cu­tor (Pho­to: Unit­ed States Depart­ment of State, pub­lic domain)

While Biden cer­tain­ly did pres­sure the Kiev gov­ern­ment to fire Vik­tor Shokin, the then-pros­e­cu­tor gen­er­al of Ukraine, it was not to stop him run­ning cor­rup­tion inves­ti­ga­tions. In fact, Biden’s demand came because Shokin was infa­mous­ly crooked, obstruct­ing anti-cor­rup­tion activists and investigators.

Hunter Biden’s busi­ness deal­ings in Ukraine were there­fore not pro­tect­ed by his father’s pres­sure on the Ukrain­ian gov­ern­ment; he may have actu­al­ly been exposed to inves­ti­ga­tion because of it.

Giuliani’s insin­u­a­tions have caused out­rage in both the Unit­ed States and Ukraine.

The House Judi­cia­ry Com­mit­tee Chair­man, Jer­ry Nadler, denounced Giu­liani for actions that were, essen­tial­ly, tan­ta­mount to seek­ing for­eign inter­ven­tion in the 2020 elec­tions. Tim Mey­er, an inter­na­tion­al law expert, told The Wash­ing­ton Post that, “This is the first instance of which I am aware in which a pri­vate lawyer for the pres­i­dent of the Unit­ed States has, in his own words, ‘med­dled’ in a for­eign crim­i­nal inves­ti­ga­tion of a third par­ty in order to polit­i­cal­ly ben­e­fit the president.”

In Ukraine, the sto­ry has caused fury amongst anti-cor­rup­tion activists.

Daria Kale­niuk, the founder of Ukraine’s Anti-Cor­rup­tion Action Cen­tre, called the accu­sa­tions against Biden “absolute non­sense,” in an inter­view with The Inter­cept. Kale­niuk argues that the con­spir­a­cy the­o­ry has the poten­tial to res­cue Vik­tor Shokin from well-deserved disgrace.

In the fake ver­sion of this sto­ry, Shokin is a ded­i­cat­ed, prin­ci­pled lawyer, fight­ing the good fight against the Bidens’ profiteering.

Kale­niuk doesn’t just reserve her ire for the President’s lack­eys. What real­ly “piss­es [her] off,” she says, is that The New York Times’ arti­cle on the sto­ry also por­trayed Shokin as an anti-cor­rup­tion hero, spread­ing the lie and under­min­ing the hard-won suc­cess­es of Ukrain­ian activists for their frag­ile democracy.

Protests in Ukraine

In 2014 Ukraini­ans revolt­ed against the cor­rup­tion of Pres­i­dent Vik­tor Yanukovich’s regime (Pho­to: Evge­ny Feld­man, repro­duced under a Cre­ative Com­mons license)

The Biden-Ukraine con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries go far beyond Kiev and Wash­ing­ton D.C. Many con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries, focus­ing on fic­tion­al con­nec­tions between Ukraine and the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty, have float­ed around right wing cor­ners of the Internet.

The source of these can be traced back to Sput­nik News, which, like RT, is a Russ­ian state-con­trolled site. Anoth­er site heav­i­ly pro­mot­ing the sto­ries is The Epoch Times, a news site run by Falun Gong – a well known Chi­nese cult that has vocif­er­ous­ly sup­port­ed Pres­i­dent Trump.

The Trump team’s dis­grace­ful attempts to under­mine Biden may not dis­cred­it the for­mer Vice Pres­i­dent, but they are cer­tain­ly help­ing to spread Russ­ian-gen­er­at­ed mis­in­for­ma­tion, under­min­ing attempts in Ukraine to root out deep cor­rup­tion, and pro­mot­ing increased fear and para­noia in Amer­i­can polit­i­cal life.

Adjacent posts

One reply on “Trump team turns to conspiracy theories to attack Democratic frontrunner Joe Biden”

Comments are closed.