Bondi strongly suggested that Biden pushed for the firing of Ukraine’s top prosecutor because Ukrainian authorities were probing the owner of the gas company that placed Hunter Biden on its board at the time.
Bondi left out that a broad coalition of U.S. and Western officials began pushing for the removal of the top prosecutor, Viktor Shokin, because his office was failing to uphold pledges by the new pro-Western government to reform the office and prosecute former high-level officials in the circle of ousted President Viktor Yanukovych.
Shokin’s office also had been enmeshed in a scandal that became known as the “diamond prosecutors” affair, in which top officials were allegedly caught with stashes of diamonds and hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash — a controversy that received widespread media attention in Ukraine.
The push for reform at the Ukrainian prosecutor general’s office — starting with the removal of Shokin — became U.S. policy at the time and a condition for further aid. It also received support from a number of members of Congress, including Republicans. Because Biden was the face of U.S. policy toward Ukraine, he pressed the demand with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko.
“It wasn’t me taking on Shokin. It was the United States government,” former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt told the Kyiv Post in July 2016. “The conditionality of getting rid of Shokin was an important step to at least opening the door to reform the prosecutor’s office.”
Pyatt told the Kyiv Post that the U.S. law enforcement agents assigned to help reform Shokin’s office “were basically locked out.” He added: “An inner corps in the prosecutor’s office was a) not interested in pursuing justice and b) not going to do anything that was going to compromise relationships with key political personalities.”
Pyatt said that two ex-prosecutors, David Sakvarelidze and Vitaly Kasko, who were brought in as reformers, were driven out by a “corrupt cabal around Shokin.”
“There are no illusions about what’s happened there, because we saw it from the inside,” Pyatt said.
Hunter Biden served on the board of Burisma, a Ukrainian gas company owned by former Ukrainian ecology minister Mykola Zlochevsky, from 2014 to 2019.
Shokin, who was fired in early 2016, has said he believes he was ousted by the former vice president because he was investigating Zlochevsky, who has denied wrongdoing.
There was little indication that the investigations of Zlochevsky during Shokin’s tenure were progressing to trial. Zlochevsky was among a group of former Yanukovych-era officials whom anti-corruption activists wanted to see the prosecutor’s office bring to justice — and they criticized the office’s failure to do so.
In a statement to The Post last year, Hunter Biden said, “At no time have I discussed with my father the company’s business or my board service.” At an appearance in Iowa, Joe Biden said, “I have never spoken to my son about his overseas business dealings.”
The former vice president has denied being motivated by anything other than U.S. policy in pushing for Shokin’s removal.