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Europeans latest to provide evidence undercutting Joe Biden story about firing Ukrainian prosecutor

Biden's story has been that he threatened to withhold loan to Ukraine only because prosecutor Shokin was not meeting anti-corruption standards. His own State Dep't said otherwise, now evidence shows that the EU concluded Shokin had met ‘benchmarks’ on anti-corruption reforms.

Published: September 7, 2023 8:48pm

Updated: September 8, 2023 12:20am

A week after then-Vice President Joe Biden began pressuring Ukraine to fire its chief prosecutor in late 2015 by withholding U.S. loan guarantees, the European Union reached internal consensus in a memo saying that Prosecutor Viktor Shokin’s office and the country at large had met its goals for fighting corruption, organized crime and human trafficking.

The newly revealed memo directly undercuts the narrative crafted by Democrats during Donald Trump’s first impeachment and sustained during the 2020 presidential election, namely, that Biden fired Shokin over U.S. and European concerns that he wasn’t fighting corruption aggressively enough.

At the time, Shokin was investigating the activities of energy company Burisma Holdings. And Hunter Biden -- who had no experience in the energy industry -- was being paid at least $83,333  a month by Burisma.

“Based on these commitments, the anti-corruption benchmark is deemed to have been achieved,” the European Commission, a key governing body of the EU Parliament, declared in a December 18, 2015 report that gave a generally rosy assessment of Ukraine’s pace of reforms and specifically the efforts of Shokin’s Prosecutor General Office.

The report, obtained by The New York Post and Just the News, noted that Shokin, just a few months on the job, had already established a special national anti-corruption prosecutor’s office to aid the newly formed FBI-approved investigative unit called the National Anti-Corruption Bureau. 

“On 30 November, the General Prosecutor appointed the head of the specialized anti-corruption prosecution,” the EU report noted, urging Shokin to continue to refine the appointment and safeguard it to ensure the office remained independent and free from influence.

The report approvingly noted numerous other commitments Shokin and other Ukrainian leaders made to fast-track and build on the progress they were making reforming anti-corruption tools and policies.

Calling Shokin's work "an important step forward" the report continued to say that “The progress noted in the fifth report on anti-corruption policies, particularly the legislative and institutional progress, has continued." The EU added that "civil society continued to play a key role in moving the anti-corruption agenda forward,” the report said, in one of the most glowing the Commission had given Ukraine since 2015.

Most notably, the report made no mention of firing Shokin or withholding any Western aid.

You can read the full report here.

The report’s tone matches the recomendations of internal State Department documents made public by Just the News late last month that show a task force of State, Treasury and Justice Department experts had recommended in October 2015 that Ukraine had indeed made adequate progress in fighting corruption and deserved to receive $1 billion in new U.S. loan guarantees when Biden traveled to Ukraine in December 2015. Biden disregarded that information.

The State memos also included a personal letter in which top U.S. official Victoria Nuland personally told Shokin her boss Secretary of State John Kerry and the department was “impressed” with Shokin’s progress.

The emergence of the U.S. and European documents in 2023 directly conflict with the story Biden gave starting in 2019 about why he took the extraordinary action of withholding the U.S. loan guarantee until then-Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko fired Shokin, who at the time was escalating a corruption probe against the Ukrainian energy firm Burisma Holdings that was paying his son Hunter millions of dollars.

Biden and his defenders claimed he was simply carrying out the U.S. policy recommendations of career officials and that European officials were in agreement that Shokin was corrupt and needed to be dismissed.

“It was a policy that was coordinated tightly with the Europeans, with the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank.  But not only did we not see progress, we saw the PGO go backwards in this period,” Nuland, now Biden’s Undersecretary of State, told the Senate Homeland Security and Accountability Committee in 2020 testimony.

Added former top U.S. envoy Kurt Volker: “When Vice President Biden made those representations to President Poroshenko he was representing U.S. policy at the time. And it was a general assumption I was not doing U.S. policy at the time but a general assumption among the European Union, France, Germany, American diplomats, U.K., that Shokin was not doing his job as a prosecutor general. He was not pursuing corruption cases.”

Joe Biden himself picked up the excuse. "I did nothing wrong,” the future president said during 2019 CNN-New York Times debate. “I carried out the policy of the United States government in rooting out corruption in Ukraine. And that’s what we should be focusing on.”

But the State Department records show Biden was urged to do the opposite: give the loan guarantee and Shokin and his team more time. The EU documents also show there wasn’t alarm in Europe, at least not in December 2015 when Biden told Poroshenko for the first time he wanted Shokin fired.

In fact, the EU issued a public statement on Dec. 18, 2015 with even more encouraging words than the report, praising Ukrainian officials who had made “enormous progress.”

“I congratulate the Ukrainian leadership on the progress made towards completing the reform process which will bring important benefits to the citizens of Ukraine in the future. The hard work towards achieving this significant goal has paid off. Now it is important to keep upholding all the standards,” EU Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship Dimitris Avramopoulos declared at the time.

Sen. Ron Johnson, (R-Wis.), who chaired the 2020 Homeland Security probe of the Bidens told Just the News on Thursday night the body of evidence from State and the EU leaves him convinced that Joe Biden changed U.S. policy and forced the firing of Shokin because it would benefit his son Hunter, who was being pressured by Burisma to deal with Shokin.

"The European Commission was satisfied with this. The administration was satisfied with this, I believe Ambassador Pyatt was satisfied with this. But Hunter Biden wasn't," Johnson said. "You start seeing emails where he's getting pressure. ... They start scrambling, I mean, he's got to start, you know, making good on the millions of dollars he's getting paid by Burisma, to protect them. And that's exactly what ended up happening. Joe Biden then on a dime, changed US policy to the surprise of everyone."

Rep Marjorie Taylor Greene, (R-Ga.), a member of the House Oversight Committee currently probing the Biden family businesses, agreed.

"It's shocking, absolutely shocking," Greene told the "Just the News, No Noise" television on Thursday night. "It seems like every single day, more and more comes out. Now we have this information that the European Union completely approved of Viktor Shokin's job and the job he was doing fighting corruption and his investigation into Burisma. But yet it was Joe Biden as Vice President of the United States. He was the one that didn't approve of Victor Shokin. And we all know why." 

The European Commission report was the sixth in a series of reports the EU did starting in 2011 to monitor a key goal for the continent: to get Ukraine to liberalize its visa policies. The goal was not only to improve travel to Ukraine as a member of the EU but also to measure the larger fight against corruption and organized crime inside the former Soviet republic with a long history of grift and violence.

The December 2015 report concluded that Ukraine had not only met the benchmarks for anticorruption reform but also for document security, border control, human trafficking, organized crime and money laundering. Another goal met had a direct correlation to Shokin’s office. “The law enforcement cooperation benchmark is deemed to have been achieved,” it said.

The EU wasn’t the only important voice cheering on Ukraine progress with rosy assessments. The George Soros-funded and internationally influential Carnegie Endowment for International Peace also weighed in during August 2015 with assessments similar to those of EU body and the State Department. It even singled out Shokin’s office for being among the most active on reforms.

“Ukraine has adopted a package of anticorruption laws and established a set of institutions to fight corruption,” the endowment’s Ukraine Reform Monitor report dated Aug. 19, 2015 stated. “The general prosecutor’s office has been the agency most active in this agenda. Judicial processes have been improved to introduce greater transparency and opportunities for public oversight of corruption cases. There have been no high-profile convictions yet.

“A new law on the prosecutor’s office was approved in autumn 2014. It was amended in July 2015 to make prosecutors more active in anticorruption activities. Local prosecutors’ offices are being reformed. All local-level prosecutors and their deputies are being dismissed, and they will be replaced by some 700 new regional prosecutors, who will be appointed by the general prosecutor’s office in Kyiv,” it added.

Joe Biden’s role in pressuring then-Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko in December 2015 to fire Shokin has been a searing controversy since April 2019, when the lead author on this story, as a columnist for The Hill, unearthed a 2018 videotape of the former vice president bragging about his role to a foreign policy think tank.

At the time Shokin was investigating Burisma for corruption, the company was paying Hunter Biden and Archer, $83,333 a month as board members.

“I said, ‘You’re not getting the billion.’ I’m going to be leaving here in, I think it was about six hours. I looked at them and said: ‘I’m leaving in six hours. If the prosecutor is not fired, you’re not getting the money,’” Biden recounted in the speech to the Council on Foreign Relations. “Well, son of a bitch, he got fired. And they put in place someone who was solid at the time.”

The disclosure prompted then-President Donald Trump to ask Ukraine’s new president, Volodymyr Zelensky, to investigate.

Democrats howled and eventually impeached Trump in late 2019. The Senate acquitted the former president. Today, the original column that prompted the controversy is preserved in the official records of Congress.

Evidence would show during impeachment and afterward that Biden’s conversation with Poroshenko occurred during a trip to Kyiv in December 2015. Under withering pressure from U.S. and Western officials, the Ukrainian president eventually buckled and persuaded Shokin to resign a few months later in March 2016. Poroshenko would tell Biden there was no evidence Shokin had done anything wrong but he forced the resignation anyway to appease the president.

“Despite of the fact that we didn’t have any corruption charges, we don’t have any information about him doing something wrong, I especially asked him … No, it was the day before yesterday. I especially asked him to resign,” Poroshenko told Biden in an audio tape call from March 2016 that was eventually released by a Ukrainian lawmaker in 2020.