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New York Times Reporter On Burisma Scandal: Joe Biden’s VP Position, Ukraine Activities Gave Burisma Its ‘Rationale’ To Put Hunter Biden On Its Board

New York Times reporter Kenneth Vogel said on the newspaper’s podcast on Wednesday that Ukrainian gas company Burisma got its “rationale” to put then-Vice President Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, on its board because of Joe Biden’s position in the U.S. government and his activities in Ukraine.
Allegations surrounding Joe and Hunter Biden’s ties in Ukraine and with Burisma have become a sore spot for Joe Biden as he runs for the Democratic nomination for president.
The scandal has stayed in the news because it is the genesis of the Democrats’ efforts to impeach President Donald Trump over a July 25 phone call he had with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in which he asked Zelensky to look into the Burisma scandal to make sure everything was above board.
Democrats launched an impeachment inquiry several weeks ago which started on the House Intelligence Committee and is now moving to the House Judiciary Committee, which has scheduled to hold hearings next Wednesday.
Here is the interaction where Vogel made the remarks:
Question: And how clear is it that the reason why Hunter Biden is coming onto the board is because of his family connection? Is it more or less explicit?
Vogel: This is definitely the message that everyone in Ukraine and Washington takes away from it as to why Hunter Biden is brought onto the board. you know his defenders point out that he had in fact served on other boards including the board of Amtrak where his dad famously has a lot of connections and clout but he doesn’t really have much other applicable experience that would suggest that he is otherwise the ideal candidate to serve on the board of a Ukrainian gas company. he doesn’t have any experience in Ukraine or Ukrainian law or even in energy.
Question: Okay, so what do we need to know about Burisma at this moment when Hunter Biden arrives on the board?
Vogel: Burisma has faced allegations of corruption, including many that are embraced by the West and by the State Department which sees it in many ways, both the company itself Burisma, and the oligarch who owns the company, as poster children for post-soviet corruption in Ukraine.
Question: Do we know if Hunter Biden understood this when he went on the board?
Vogel: If he had done any due diligence, you would think that he should have known. there were certainly investigations that were already ongoing, both in Ukraine and in the West, into the oligarch who owned the company on suspicion of money laundering and those investigations had support from the United States government and that is where Joe Biden comes in.
Question: What do you mean?
Vogel: Well, Joe Biden at this time is the vice president and one of his key foreign policy tasks that he takes on at the assignment of President Barack Obama is to help Ukraine stand up to Russian aggression and one of the things that is seen as an impediment to Ukraine establishing a stable government is this scourge of corruption that has long plagued it and is seen as limiting its ability to attract international investment and to be a stable government that can mount a response to Russian aggression.
Question: And when is he given that assignment?
Vogel: I mean it comes pretty much at about the same time as Hunter Biden is going on to the board of this Ukrainian gas company in early 2014.
Questioner: So, that’s kind of complicated.
Vogel: It is and it certainly would provide rationale for this Ukrainian gas company and it’s oligarch owner to want to have a powerful Westerner who is seen as having connections to the Obama government which at this point is pushing Ukraine to clamp down on the very type of corruption that this oligarch and his company is seen as embodying. 
NYT's Vogel: Joe Biden's VP position, activities in Ukraine gave Burisma its "rationale" to put Hunter Biden on its board
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Partial transcript from The Daily podcast:
Question: Does anyone raise the question of whether this is not a great idea that Joe Biden is suddenly investigating corruption in Ukraine around the same time that his son is now on the board of a major Ukrainian energy company that is accused of corruption?
Vogel: Yes, we know that there’s a guy in the State Department by the name of George Kent, who had deep experience both in Ukraine and in fighting corruption, he had served as the anti-corruption coordinator in the State Department’s European Bureau, and he does raise concerns about Hunter Biden joining the board of Burisma and how Hunter Biden’s position could affect Vice President Biden standing as a corruption fighter or the leader of the U.S. effort to push Ukraine to clamp down on corruption.
Question: But a decision is made that father and son can simultaneously do these two things?
Vogel: It actually appears as if the decision was to not make a decision and to not address this. George Kent tried to bring this to the attention of the Vice President’s staff and was essentially told that Vice President Biden did not have the bandwidth to address this at a time when he was dealing with other family issues.
Question: So, the theory is basically that the vice-president does a favor for his son in the form of official action in Ukraine?
Vogel: Correct.
Question: Okay, so where does the story behind that claim begin?
Vogel: You got to go back to 2014 … Hunter Biden who’s a Yale educated lawyer and had dabbled in various business ventures had just been discharged from the Navy Reserve after testing positive for cocaine during a drug test. And at this point he and some partners are starting to explore international opportunities and one of his partners gets this gig on the board of this Ukrainian gas company that is looking for some Western political connections and Hunter Biden asked if he can get in on this as well and he is brought on to the board of this company. This company is called Burisma Holdings it does primarily natural gas and it is bringing on to its board a number of folks with big political names in the West and one of them is Hunter Biden. He is paid as much as $50,000 or even more in some months to serve on the board of this company and ostensibly to help it with governance reforms to sort of introduce Western corporate governance standards into this company.
Question: And how clear is it that the reason why Hunter Biden is coming onto the board is because of his family connection? Is it more or less explicit?
Vogel: This is definitely the message that everyone in Ukraine and Washington takes away from it as to why Hunter Biden is brought onto the board. you know his defenders point out that he had in fact served on other boards including the board of Amtrak where his dad famously has a lot of connections and clout but he doesn’t really have much other applicable experience that would suggest that he is otherwise the ideal candidate to serve on the board of a Ukrainian gas company. he doesn’t have any experience in Ukraine or Ukrainian law or even in energy.
Question: Okay, so what do we need to know about Burisma at this moment when Hunter Biden arrives on the board?
Vogel: Burisma has faced allegations of corruption, including many that are embraced by the West and by the State Department which sees it in many ways, both the company itself Burisma, and the oligarch who owns the company, as poster children for post-soviet corruption in Ukraine.
Question: Do we know if Hunter Biden understood this when he went on the board?
Vogel: If he had done any due diligence, you would think that he should have known. there were certainly investigations that were already ongoing, both in Ukraine and in the West, into the oligarch who owned the company on suspicion of money laundering and those investigations had support from the United States government and that is where Joe Biden comes in.
Question: What do you mean?
Vogel: Well, Joe Biden at this time is the vice president and one of his key foreign policy tasks that he takes on at the assignment of President Barack Obama is to help Ukraine stand up to Russian aggression and one of the things that is seen as an impediment to Ukraine establishing a stable government is this scourge of corruption that has long plagued it and is seen as limiting its ability to attract international investment and to be a stable government that can mount a response to Russian aggression.
Question: And when is he given that assignment?
Vogel: I mean it comes pretty much at about the same time as Hunter Biden is going on to the board of this Ukrainian gas company in early 2014.
Questioner: So, that’s kind of complicated.
Vogel: It is and it certainly would provide rationale for this Ukrainian gas company and it’s oligarch owner to want to have a powerful Westerner who is seen as having connections to the Obama government which at this point is pushing Ukraine to clamp down on the very type of corruption that this oligarch and his company is seen as embodying.
Questioner: It seems like both Joe Biden and Hunter Biden put themselves in a position where people could later question their motives and their judgment. Because either Hunter Biden should not have been on that board at the same time that his father was taking on corruption in Ukraine, or his father, knowing that his son was on that board, should not have taken on corruption in Ukraine.

Vogel: Yes, that’s right and what’s interesting is that the way that the Bidens sought to address this and avoid these conflicts of interests is by expressly not knowing what one another were doing. In other words, Joe Biden said he did not want to know anything about what Hunter Biden was doing in the private sector because how could he be doing anything in his job as vice president if he did not know what his son’s interests were. Now there’s an argument to be made that that’s not really a good way to inoculate yourself against these concerns. The way to inoculate yourself is to know about what one another is doing so you can avoid these potential areas of overlap.

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