NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's uplifting perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Monday, May 13th, 2019

Trump team turns to conspiracy theories to attack Democratic frontrunner Joe Biden

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.

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One Comment

  1. Infor­ma­tive arti­cle, just what I waas look­ing for.

    # by Micheline Petrocelli :: June 5th, 2019 at 1:31 PM
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