Tulsi Gabbard Critical of Biden on Ukraine Scandal
Presidential race hopeful Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) criticized Hunter Biden’s work for a Ukrainian energy company while his father was vice-president and point-man on Ukraine policy.
Gabbard said in an interview with Hill.TV’s “Rising” on Friday that the perception of Joe Biden’s son serving on the board of gas giant Burisma Holdings was troubling and that for a close relative of the VP to sit on such a board was ill-judged.
Gabbard said, “I don’t know what went into that or how he got hired or why or what influence there was used, if any, but I think the perception is certainly a concern.”
The show’s co-host, Krystal Ball, asked Gabbard if she would allow her vice president’s son to be on the board of a Ukrainian energy company “if that was in his portfolio?”
Gabbard responded, “I think that would be a poor decision to make.”
Saagar Enjeti, the show’s co-host, asked Gabbard if the allegations against Joe Biden indicate corruption.
“I think the perception is certainly a concern,” Gabbard said. “I think we have to look at how we can root out the corruption of the abuse of power and influence within our government, and I think that there’s a lot of examples of it.”
Hunter Biden’s ties to Burisma have been questioned on grounds of conflict of interest and he’s been under increased scrutiny since the Democrat-led push for impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump after he asked Ukraine to investigate.
“The Bidens got rich, and that is substantiated, while America got robbed,” Trump said at a recent rally in Minnesota, with apparent reference to the tens of thousands of dollars per month Hunter Biden was paid while serving on the Burisma board.
Democrats launched the impeachment inquiry after an anonymous whistleblower filed a complaint against Trump, accusing him of abusing the office of the president by pressuring a foreign government to investigate his presidential election opponent.
The complaint stemmed from a call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, in which Trump asked Zelensky to probe the Bidens’ activities in Ukraine with regard to a 2018 comment Joe Biden made boasting about forcing the firing of a top Ukrainian prosecutor in 2016, who at the time had been investigating Burisma. In the background were hundreds of millions of dollars of military aid to Ukraine that had been withheld by the White House, which Democrats allege was leverage to get the investigation launched. The transcript of the call, which has since been released by the White House, contains no obvious quid pro quo or conditions for unblocking the aid.
Gabbard initially said the transcript of the call between Trump and Zelensky did not show ample evidence for impeachment but she changed her mind several days later after the whistleblower’s complaint was released.
“After looking carefully at the transcript of the conversation with Ukraine’s president, the whistleblower complaint, the inspector general memo, and President Trump’s comments about the issue, unfortunately, I believe that if we do not proceed with the inquiry, it will set a very dangerous precedent,” she said in a statement.
“Future presidents, as well as anyone in positions of power in the government, will conclude that they can abuse their position for personal gain, without fear of accountability or consequences.”
Biden last year said that he got the Ukrainian prosecutor fired in 2016 by threatening to withhold $1 billion in aid.
That prosecutor, Viktor Shokin, had been probing Burisma, where Hunter Biden worked from 2014 to 2019, though that investigation, according to his second-in-command, was inactive when Shokin was forced out.
Biden has claimed no wrongdoing in the matter, but the prosecutor who was dismissed said in a sworn statement that he was forced under pressure from Biden because he refused to drop the Burisma investigation.
In one of the emails to supporters, Biden said Trump’s team is trying to “smear my name and hijack this election.”
It has been reported that the reason for Shokin’s ouster was his reluctance to investigate corruption.
Shokin’s former number two has gone on the record to say the Burisma probe was dormant at the time of Shokin’s ouster.
“There was no pressure from anyone from the United States” to close the Burisma probe, said Vitaliy Kasko, who was a deputy prosecutor-general under Shokin and is now first deputy prosecutor-general, according to Bloomberg News. “It was shelved by Ukrainian prosecutors in 2014 and through 2015,” Kasko told the news outlet.