Navigate to News section

Don’t Believe Your Lying Eyes—or Joe Biden’s Big Mouth

In an ugly display of Big Tech’s monopoly power, Twitter and Facebook censor the White House, U.S. senators, and the ‘New York Post’ for saying things that were reported in ‘The New York Times’ five years ago—and that the Democratic candidate has publicly boasted about

by
Lee Smith
October 19, 2020
Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images
Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images
Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images
Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

The move by Facebook and Twitter to censor a New York Post story about Joe Biden was Silicon Valley’s version of an October surprise. Since publication of a story last week alleging that Hunter Biden was introducing foreign business colleagues to his father, Twitter has kept locked the account of the 200-year-old newspaper until it deletes its tweets about its Biden reporting. By removing the story from news feeds, locking the accounts of the Trump campaign and White House spokesperson Kayleigh McEnany, and prohibiting editors of the newspaper from sharing the piece even from their own accounts—actions taken without evidence anything in the story was false—the tech oligarchy signaled it was throwing its weight behind what it believes to be the coming Democratic order in Washington.

It also provided Americans with an authentically shocking snapshot of the type of “managed” society that we now inhabit. In the new American system, large Silicon Valley corporations use their government-sanctioned and immensely profitable monopoly status to routinely censor information and libel anyone they please at the behest of unelected partisan verticals that have colonized large segments of the federal bureaucracy and security agencies. As each corrupted interest rubber stamps each other’s actions, power is removed from public hands and public view.

The idea that the Post story about Hunter Biden’s apparent bribery, and cocaine and sexual habits, was some form of dangerous “Russian disinformation” was teed up nearly a year ago by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the press, and cybersecurity professionals. According to Biden aides and other surrogates, any implication that the 2020 Democratic presidential candidate—who took his son to Beijing for business meetings on his vice presidential airplane—was aware of Hunter’s business dealings in Ukraine was necessarily part of an evil Russian scheme to interfere in an American election, again. It was on that basis that the social media giants justified their actions, while a practiced political and intelligence infrastructure surfaced to protect its favored candidate.

Facebook and Twitter had at first blocked the Post’s Hunter Biden story because, they claimed, the emails it is sourced from may have been stolen or hacked. They were not. They come from a hard drive left at a computer repair shop in Delaware. The owner gave the hard drive to the FBI in December. He also provided a copy to a representative of Trump’s personal lawyer Rudolph Giuliani. It appears the Delaware man did not entirely trust FBI Director Christopher Wray, who has been sitting on mountains of documents exposing the bureau’s role in the anti-Trump operation designed to tilt the 2016 election to Hillary Clinton since he was confirmed in 2017.

Wray has now shown he’s not simply protecting the FBI’s reputation but is assisting a campaign against the president. As the hard drive was handed over, Trump was being impeached for allegedly strong-arming the Ukrainians into investigating Biden family corruption in Ukraine. Thus, the FBI held on to information that would have been useful in the president’s defense, evidence suggesting it would indeed be important to know what the Bidens were really up to in Ukraine. Instead, at around the same time the FBI began briefing congressional leadership on a potential plot to disseminate Russian disinformation regarding the Bidens and Ukraine through a pro-Russian Ukrainian parliamentarian. In other words, the FBI was preemptively clearing the Democratic candidate and teeing up the media response to Biden-Ukraine information already in its possession.

In January, according to a New York Times report, the Ukrainian company, Burisma, that employed Hunter Biden had been “hacked” by Russian military intelligence. However, this assessment was made only by a private cyber-security firm founded by a former employee of CrowdStrike, the one-time Hillary Clinton campaign contractor that claimed, without evidence, that Russian military intelligence had hacked Democratic National Committee emails in 2016. In other words, the same network that pushed the Russia collusion conspiracy theory—the FBI, the media, and DNC operatives—set the same machinery in motion to pre-emptively clear the Democratic candidate in the event the Biden-Ukraine information surfaced: It would be dismissed as “Russian disinformation.”

Thus, when Republican Sens. Ron Johnson and Chuck Grassley released a report in September based on U.S. Treasury Department information detailing Hunter Biden’s financial relationship with foreign officials—primarily Ukrainians, Chinese, and Russians, including the wife of the mayor of Moscow who wired him $3.5 million from her personal bank account—the media’s claims that it was all based on Russian disinformation had already been validated by the FBI and others.

Further, labeling it Russian disinformation serves to shift attention to those providing the information, putting them, instead of the Bidens, under suspicion. For instance, a Washington Post story from last week reports that U.S. intelligence agencies incidentally collected Giuliani’s communications while he was in contact with various Ukrainian figures in his efforts to defend his client, Trump. If the Washington Post story is true, it represents yet another felony leak of classified intelligence in a four-year-long series of leaks designed to destabilize the Trump White House.

To be clear, the charges against Hunter Biden are not Russian disinformation. The potentially dangerous ramifications of his work on behalf of an allegedly corrupt Ukrainian former official was first reported by The New York Times nearly five years ago. Joe Biden’s efforts to protect a foreign company employing his son that was under investigation by a foreign power were first reported by none other than Joe Biden when he boasted about it in front of the Council on Foreign Relations.

Indeed, the facts of the Bidens’ involvement in Ukraine are all matters of public record. Shortly after protesters forced Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych to flee Kyiv in February 2014, Vice President Biden was there on the ground. As the Obama administration’s point man on Ukraine, he was meeting with government officials, including the next president of Ukraine, Petro Poroshenko, telling them they had to do more to root out corruption. In May, Hunter Biden was named to the board of Burisma, a natural gas company owned by Mykola Zlochevsky, a Ukrainian oligarch who’d served in the government of the previous, now exiled, president.

In August 2014, the Ukrainians opened an investigation of Burisma, and in January 2015 the owner of Burisma was put on Ukraine’s most wanted list. Those should have been signals for Hunter Biden to extricate himself from Burisma. Instead, the vice president of the United States began pushing President Poroshenko to fire the prosecutor, Victor Shokin, who was investigating the company that was paying his son more than $50,000 a month.

The 2020 Democratic candidate had previously claimed that he never spoke with Hunter about his foreign business. The New York Post article indicates that Biden’s claim is false.

The 49-year-old Hunter’s well-documented problems made him an obvious target for foreign intelligence services. Drawing money from a foreign company under investigation in a notoriously corrupt country made the son of the vice president of the United States a threat to compromise U.S. national security. At least two State Department officials raised their concerns with the Biden team (one went directly to Joe and Hunter Biden) and were ignored.

Ukrainian President Poroshenko naturally saw the Burisma investigation as leverage to be used against his political rivals. Sometimes he turned the heat up on his adversaries, and at other times he laid off. In September 2015, U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt upbraided the Ukrainians for not doing more to bring Burisma owner Zlochevsky to justice.

Biden media surrogates claim that the former vice president was part of this Obama administration-led international effort to oust the prosecutor for not doing enough to root out corruption. But the notion that Biden was demanding the Kyiv government investigate the company paying his son more than $50,000 a month for doing nothing is absurd. What Biden meant by corruption was different from what the State Department meant. State wanted a new prosecutor because he wasn’t investigating Burisma; Biden wanted Shokin fired because he was investigating the company that employed his son.

It was allegedly the Hillary Clinton campaign that first brought the divide between the State Department and the vice president over Burisma to light. According to a former senior intelligence official in the Obama administration, Clinton deputies were behind the Dec. 9, 2015, New York Times story about Hunter Biden’s work for Burisma, “Joe Biden, His Son and the Case Against a Ukrainian Oligarch.”

The article reads:

The credibility of the vice president’s anticorruption message may have been undermined by the association of his son, Hunter Biden, with one of Ukraine’s largest natural gas companies, Burisma Holdings, and with its owner, Mykola Zlochevsky, who was Ukraine’s ecology minister under former President Viktor F. Yanukovych before he was forced into exile.

The Times even included Ambassador Pyatt’s demands that Ukraine go after the Burisma owner. “In his speech,” the Times reported, “the ambassador did not mention Hunter Biden’s connection to Burisma.”

The purpose of the Times piece, says the former Obama official, was to ensure that Biden didn’t change his mind about entering the 2016 race. And so the Clinton campaign fired a shot across his bow to show him they could make life uncomfortable for him. The Times dropped the story just as the vice president was in Kyiv to demand the government root out corruption.

Biden didn’t flinch. The day the story published, he made his first public demand that the Ukrainians fire the prosecutor tasked to the Burisma case.

Contrary to the claim of Biden surrogates that there was no open investigation of Burisma when the vice president demanded Shokin’s firing, the Ukrainian prosecutor seized the Burisma owner’s property on Feb. 2, 2016. The investigation was too valuable for the Ukrainian president to just shut it down.

Biden called Poroshenko repeatedly, on Feb. 11, Feb. 12, Feb. 18, and Feb. 19— to talk about “corruption.” Poroshenko eventually relented. During the call on the 18th, Biden “commended” his decision to replace the prosecutor looking into Burisma.

Biden later garbled the story of how he got Shokin canned when he related it to an audience at the Council on Foreign Relations in January 2018. He boasted that he got Poroshenko to fire the prosecutor on the spot during a March 2016 visit, or else he’d leave without giving Kyiv a $1 billion loan guarantee the administration had promised. In fact, Biden had been riding the Ukrainians for months to get them to terminate Shokin. But the basic facts in Biden’s account were correct—he used American taxpayer dollars as leverage to get a foreign government to call off the investigation of a company that was currently employing his son.

In other words, it’s not “the Russians” who were responsible for the allegations about Joe Biden’s involvement in Hunter Biden’s seedy business in Ukraine—it’s Joe and Hunter Biden.

Thank you for reading Tablet.

The Jewish world needs a place like Tablet where varying—even conflicting—viewpoints can exist side by side. Our times demand an engagement with big ideas and not a retreat from them. Help us do what we do.