What About the Bidens?

What About the Bidens?

Burisma Holdings is the largest Ukrainian company in the oil and gas sector. From 2014 to 2019, Hunter Biden, son of Joe Biden, served on Burisma’s Board of Directors and was paid $50,000/month. Because then-Vice President Joe Biden was American’s point person on Ukraine, many rightfully say that his son’s role at Burisma gave an appearance, at the very least, of conflict of interest.

Several of Ukraine’s Prosecutor Generals had investigated Burisma for corruption over the years, including during Hunter Biden’s time there. However, Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin, appointed in 2015, was notable for hampering a number of anti-corruption investigations, including investigations into Burisma. Consistent with official U.S. policy, and consistent with the wishes of the EU nations, in early 2016, Vice President Biden publicly called for Shokin to be removed from office as a condition of Ukraine getting $1 billion in loan guarantees from the United States. Shokin’s removal would, of course, do the opposite of benefitting Burisma, because it would mean the potential for a new Ukrainian Prosecutor General who would go after corruption.

During the House Intelligence Committee’s impeachment hearings, many Republicans pointed to Biden pushing for Shokin’s ouster as evidence of Joe Biden using U.S. government power in a corrupt effort to enrich his son. They equated this to Donald Trump withholding $400 million in U.S. military aid from Ukraine until Zelensky publicly announced investigations into Crowdstrike and Burisma. They equate the quiet, behind-the-scenes machinations of Trump’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, with Biden’s public efforts.

Implicating Biden’s son and potentially Joe Biden himself serves Trump’s agenda by discrediting the candidate about whom Trump’s aides have said that Trump is most concerned in the 2020 election.

For then-Vice President Joe Biden to have been America’s point person on Ukraine while his son Hunter was serving. lucrative position on the board of a Ukrainian energy company gave, at best, the appearance of a conflict of interest. Was it right for Trump to ask Ukraine for an investigation of this specific situation? No. Would it have been appropriate to mention Burisma as one of many specific issues in the context of a broad statement encouraging Zelensky to take on corruption? Probably.

However, the withholding of Congressionally approved military aid, the use of a communications channel outside of the normal diplomatic channels, and the secrecy around Trump’s activities all points to the investigation of the Biden’s not being about corruption in Ukraine, but about domestic American politics.

“…in February of 2015, I raised my concern that Hunter Biden’s status as a board member could create the perception of a conflict of interest. Let me be clear, however: I did not witness any effort by any US official to shield Burisma from scrutiny. In fact, I and other US officials consistently advocated re-instituting a scuttled investigation of Zlochevsky, Burisma’s founder, as well as holding the corrupt prosecutors who closed the case to account.”

George Kent
Deputy Assistant U.S. Secretary of State for Eastern Europe and the Caucuses

“We fully anticipated the Ukrainians would raise the issue of meeting, of a meeting between the presidents. Ambassador Bolton cut the meeting short when Ambassador Sondland started to speak about the requirement that Ukraine deliver specific investigations in order to secure the meeting with President Trump. Following this meeting, there was a short debriefing during which Ambassador Sondland emphasized the importance of Ukraine delivering the investigations into the 2016 elections, the Bidens and Burisma. I stated to Ambassador Sondland that this was inappropriate and it had nothing to do with national security. Dr. Hill also asserted his comments weren’t proper.”

U.S. Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman
National Security Counsel Ukraine Expert, Director for European Affairs

“It’s not credible to me that former Vice President Biden would have been influenced in any way by financial or personal motives in carrying out his duties as vice president.”

Kurt Volker
Former US Special Envoy to Ukraine

“As I previously testified, I have known Vice President Biden for 24 years, he is an honorable man and I hold him in the highest regard. At no time was I aware of or knowingly took part in an effort to urge Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Biden.”

Kurt Volker
Former US Special Envoy to Ukraine

For more info, visit Trump-Ukraine Central

– rob rünt

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Sunday, February 12, 2017

This will be the last installment of “The Week in Trump” as a summary of each week’s Trump news. My apologies. I have taken the responsibility of posting this summary seriously, and am finding it overwhelming to locate and determine the most accurate information on each given story, amid a regular flow of “alternative facts” from the Trump Administration, countered with at times exaggerations, mischaracterizations, and flat out inaccuracies from even the most reputable news media.

I will continue to post links to important articles and editorials here on the home page as I find them, and will continue to regularly update the lists of nationwide protests, events, resources and organizations. Thank you for reading, and thank you for resisting.

The four stories that I consider most important to continue following are the actions of Steve Bannon, indications of Trump’s mental health, Trump’s many conflicts of interest, and the connections/communications between Russia and the Trump Administration/the 2016 Trump Campaign.

Articles and Editorials:

The major pieces of Trump news this week were:

  • General Flynn’s Contact With Russia
  • Immigration Update
  • Conflict of Interest: Nordstrom
  • Jeff Sessions Confirmation Hearing
  • Internal White House Dynamics

Main Stories

Flynn and Russia

Another questionable Russia connection has surfaced in the Trump Administration. In December 2016 – after the election but before the Inauguration– Trump’s National Security Adviser, retired General Michael Flynn, communicated with Sergey Kislyak, a Russian Ambassador to the US.

Of concern is the substance of the conversation.

At the time, it was widely anticipated that then-President Obama would soon retaliate in some way – likely with sanctions – for Russia’s actions in our election. For Flynn and Kislyak to have discussed sanctions (and the possibility of lifting them) while Obama was the President is not only inappropriate, but potentially illegal. (Full Article – NPR)

Flynn initially denied to reporters that he had discussed the topic of sanctions (Full Article – Politico). He later stated that he might have discussed sanctions, that he wasn’t sure. The Washington Post and New York Times claim to have information from “current and former American officials” that Flynn did in fact discuss the easing of sanctions with the Russian Ambassador while Obama was President (Full Article – New York Times).

The relationships of Flynn and others in the Administration to Russia are coming under increased scrutiny as the timeline of their past actions are found to line up with information in a dossier compiled by a former British intelligence officer (Full Article – Business Insider).

Immigration Update

Last Sunday, 97 major companies filed suit over President Trump’s executive order on immigration, asserting that immigrants are important to the success of their businesses (Full Article – The Independent UK).

This followed a suit on Friday (2/3) by the Attorneys General of Washington State and Minnesota, in which a federal judge had placed a temporary nationwide hold on the executive order (Full Article – CNN). Trump referred to that judge as a “so-called judge,” but his judgment was unanimously upheld this Friday (2/10) by a three-judge federal appeals court. Further, when a representative of the Trump Administration told the three judges that they had no authority to review the executive order, the judges stated that “there is no precedent to support this claimed unreviewability, which runs contrary to the fundamental structure of our democracy” (Full Article – NPR). Trump vowed to continue fighting for his executive order, then later suggested that he might just “file a brand new order.” (Full Article – Bloomberg).

Conflict of Interest-Nordstrom

After Nordstrom stopped carrying Trump’s daughter Ivanka’s clothing line, the President criticized the retailer Wednesday on Twitter for “unfair” treatment of her (Full Article – Daily News). On Thursday, Trump advisor Kellyanne Conway went on Fox and encouraged Americans to buy Ivanka’s products, a move that prompted the Chairman of the House Oversight Committee,  Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) to respond “that is absolutely wrong, wrong, wrong.” (Full Article – NPR). Some Democrats also believe that the President’s tweet demonstrates a conflict between the President’s financial interests and his responsibilities as an elected public official.

Elizabeth Warren at Sessions Confirmation: “Nevertheless, She Persisted”

On Tuesday, during Senator Jeff Sessions’ (R-AL) confirmation hearing, Senator  Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) read a 1986 letter that Coretta Scott King (wife of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.) had written in 1986 when Sessions went before the Senate for confirmation as a US District Judge. At that time, allegations of racism against Sessions ultimately prevented him from being confirmed.

But as Warren read the letter, Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and the majority in the Senate voted to silence her (Full Article – New York Times). McConnell later said that “She was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted” – the last three words quickly becoming a rallying cry for women on social media (Full Article – The Atlantic). Later, several male Senators – Tom Udall (D-NM), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Bernie Sanders (I-VT) – each read some or all of the letter to the Senate uninterrupted (Full Article – CNN). On Wednesday, the majority of the Senate confirmed Sessions as US Attorney General (Full Article – NPR).

Internal White House Dynamics

The White House inner circle have begun to rethink their strategy after significant resistance to their current approach. More upsetting to Trump than the pushback on immigration, however,  was the fact that he hadn’t realized that one of the executive orders that he had signed included an appointment of his advisor Steve Bannon to the National Security Council (Full Article – New York Times). If the stories coming from concerned White House staffers are true, there are worrisome indications of an erratic President who is having trouble adjusting to his new responsibilities and to the basic processes and functions of government. In one such story, Trump called his National Security Advisor, Michael Flynn, at 3am to ask him if it was a strong dollar or a weak one that is good for America’s economy. Flynn suggested that Trump contact someone with a background in economics (Full Article – Huffington Post).

“I’ve been in this town for 26 years. I have never seen anything like this. I genuinely do not think this is a mentally healthy President.”

Eliot Cohen
Former State Department Official under George W. Bush
(Full Article – Huffington Post)

Keeping Track of the Basics:

Other Stories That You Should Know About

FEC Commissioner Friday Calls on Trump to Show His Evidence of Widespread Voter Fraud
(Full Article – CBS News)

Trump Accuses Media of Downplaying Terrorist Attacks
(Full Article – New York Times)

Department of Defense (in Addition to Secret Service) Looking to Rent Space in Trump Tower: Conflict of Interest?
(Full Article – Washington Post)

Saudis Pay for Stay at Trump Hotel in DC: Conflict of Interest?
(Full Article – Politico)

Donald Trump Is Not Welcome to Address British Parliament
(Full Article – The Independent UK)

Betsy Devos Was Confirmed as Secretary of Education, With VP Mike Pence Casting Deciding Vote Amid Senate Tie
(Full Article – CNBC)

Rosie O’Donnell May Portray Steve Bannon on SNL
(Full Article – CNN)


Whatever Happened to Trump-Russia Story?
(Full Article-MotherJones)

Playing into Milo’s Hands
(Full Article – The Observer)

Trump’s Relationship with Roy Cohn
(Full Article – New York Daily News – From October 1, 2016)

This Philosopher Predicted Trump’s Rise in 1998 — and He Has Another Warning for the Left
(Full Article – Vox)

Anti-Intellectualism in America
(Full Article – Psychology Today – from 2014)

Alternative Facts from an Alternative Universe

Self-selecting our news sources, a reluctance to hear opposing ideas, and the choice by many of us to surround ourselves only with like-minded individuals has resulted in many Americans becoming oblivious to the beliefs of those with whom they disagree. This bubble helped create the world of “alternative facts” in which Donald Trump could become President.

To counter this, each week I will present a little of what Trump’s supporters are thinking. Their reality may be very different from yours. Please listen/read to the end, and consider what respectful questions you could ask to better understand and have a conversation, rather than seeking to prove them wrong as quickly as possible and shut them down. We can’t change minds if we can’t talk to each other.

NOTE: Some profanity in this one, but it’s worth watching anyway – you can turn the sound off and read.

Cartoons, Images & Videos

Posted on Facebook by Occupy Democrats:


Coretta Scott King’s letter, the reading of which on the Senate floor resulted in Elzabeth Warren being silenced:


Source: anonymous


Source: anonymous


Source: Unknown


Meme from The Daily Show


Graffiti by Banksy, Photographer unknown


Events & Actions

Two major nationwide protests coming up:

  • Monday, February 20, 2017: “Not My President’s Day Rallies” across the country – find your nearest rally here!
  • Saturday, April 15, 2017: Trump Tax Day Marches across the country to let him know that it’s not just reporters who care about his undisclosed tax returns – find your nearest rally here!

Resources & Organizations