-
Tuesday, October 1, 2019

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

One huge question looms large over the so-called Trump-Ukraine scandal, and here it is:

Why would the Democrats go after President Trump for allegedly threatening to withhold U.S. aid to Ukraine when their proposed 2020 standard-bearer did EXACTLY THE SAME THING — and is on tape admitting it?


There are only two answers, and both might deliver the same result: Democrats either don’t care what happens to former Vice President Joseph R. Biden, or they’re intentionally trying to take him out.

Mr. Biden has been a weak candidate from the outset. While the comparatively moderate career politician appeared to be perfectly positioned when he stepped into the race for the Democratic Party nomination in April, a slew of other contenders were running hard left, promising free everything for everybody. That left the middle uncontested for Mr. Biden.

Since then, though, the “inevitable” nominee has blundered his way back into the pack.

The former vice president is still at or near the top of most polls, but few Democrats are jazzed up for Joe (but then, it’s hard to imagine voters getting excited about any of the others in the whole sad pack of wannabes).

Still, Sen. Elizabeth Warren is rising fast in the polls, and Sen. Bernie Sanders pulled in $25 million last quarter, putting him atop the pile. The race is changing fast.

The way the Trump-Ukraine scandal has played out so far has certainly appeared to favor Mr. Trump (some conspiracy theorists speculate that the master troller set up the entire thing).

Remember: Originally, the allegations were that Mr. Trump demanded at least eight times in a phone call that Ukraine investigate the business dealings of Mr. Biden’s son Hunter.

When Mr. Trump released the transcript of the call, it turned out there was just one time that the president asked for “a favor.”

But by then, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and all the other top Democrats had already decided to move forward with an impeachment inquiry.

As the smoke clears around Mr. Trump, Mr. Biden is left standing in the crosshairs. And this fact has emerged: Hunter Biden made hundreds of thousands of dollars through his employment with Burisma, the largest private gas company in Ukraine — despite having no known qualifications for the job. And when word spread that a prosecutor was looking into the matter, then-Vice President Biden demanded that the prosecutor be fired. That’s a fact.

More, Mr. Biden is on tape discussing his push for the Ukrainian government to fire Viktor Shokin, bragging he had threatened to withhold $1 billion until Mr. Shokin was canned. “If the prosecutor is not fired, you’re not getting the money,” he says he told Ukrainian leaders. “Well son of a bitch, he got fired,” Mr. Biden says with a smile in the video clip.

That’s exactly what Mr. Trump is accused — accused, mind you — of doing. Weeks before Mr. Trump’s July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, Mr. Trump put on hold $391 million in aid. He says he did so to pressure other nations to contribute more money and to take time to examine programs. Democrats, though, say it was a clear quid pro quo: Dig up some dirt on Mr. Biden and his son, or no money.

But The New York Times’ Kenneth Vogel posted an interesting statement on Twitter last week in the midst of the mess. “The Ukrainians weren’t made aware that the assistance was being delayed/reviewed until more than one month after the call,” he wrote. So, no quid pro quo.

Worse, a photo emerged Monday showing Mr. Biden and his son playing golf with executives from Burisma. Not good.

It’s certainly too early to tell whether Mr. Trump will emerge unscathed from yet another scandal, but regardless of his fate, Mr. Biden’s star is greatly dimmed. And while House Democrats will get in lockstep to vote to impeach Mr. Trump, the Senate will be a whole different kettle of fish.

During the trial of the president, Republicans will target Mr. Biden and his son nonstop. It’s highly unlikely 22 Republicans will join Democrats to vote to convict, but Mr. Biden will be heavily damaged.

That may have all been part of Mr. Trump’s master plan. He knew the transcript didn’t show a quid pro quo, and the whistleblower complaint, now also public, doesn’t amount to much, either.

And maybe, just maybe, Democrats knew that this scandal would also take out Mr. Biden. If they did, they could well be right. Even better, if Mr. Biden gets crushed in the playout of the Ukraine scandal, they’ll have no blood on their hands.

Former Democratic Sen. Robert Torricelli said Tuesday that the Ukraine allegations will hurt Mr. Biden.

“It is hard to imagine a Democratic primary electorate witnessing this spectacle of $50,000 a month to Hunter Biden, the contradictory information about whether there was consultation with him and his father, the rather unseemly view of this, that the Democratic primary electorate is going to decide this is our guy,” said the former senator from New Jersey.

“The Torch” wasn’t right about much when he was in the Senate, but he could well be spot on with this prediction.

Joseph Curl covered the White House and politics for a decade for The Washington Times. He can be reached at josephcurl@gmail.com and on Twitter @josephcurl.


Copyright © 2019 The Washington Times, LLC.