Trump and Giuliani’s efforts to find 'dirt' on Joe Biden went way beyond his son’s involvement with Ukrainian energy company: report

Trump and Giuliani’s efforts to find 'dirt' on Joe Biden went way beyond his son’s involvement with Ukrainian energy company: report
Rudy Giuliani, Fox News Screengrab

Much of the coverage of the Ukraine scandal has focused heavily on Hunter Biden’s involvement with the Ukrainian energy company Burisma, and how President Donald Trump hoped to use that involvement to harm a political adversary: former Vice President Joe Biden, Hunter Biden’s father. But Ryan Goodman and Alex Potcovaru, in an October 21 article for Just Security, stress that there is another crucial element to Ukrainegate: Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani’s efforts to prove an “unfounded” conspiracy theory that Joe Biden and other Democrats, in 2016, tried to harm Trump’s presidential campaign via Ukraine.

“Giuliani’s unfounded conspiracy theory is that Biden removed Ukraine prosecutor General Viktor Shokin and approved the new prosecutor, Yuriy Lutsenko, as part of an effort to ‘frame (2016 Trump campaign manager) Paul Manafort and the Trump campaign in the 2016 election,” Goodman and Potcovaru explain. “Giuliani asserts, without evidence, that the new prosecutor dropped a case against an organization that had produced information in coordination with the Democrats and U.S. officials to taint Manafort. This conspiracy theory fits in with the overall idea that Russia was not behind the 2016 election interference, but instead, the real collusion involved Ukrainian and Democratic operatives.”

Giuliani, according to Goodman and Potcovaru, was not only trying to defame Joe Biden via his son’s connection to Burisma, but also trying to link him to the conspiracy theory that in 2016, it was the Ukrainian government rather than the Russian government that interfered in the presidential election.

“Giuliani’s months-long effort to press Ukraine to open an investigation into the 2016 election was explicitly and repeatedly connected by Giuliani himself to allegations that the investigation into 2016 — not just the one into the Hunter Biden firm — would provide derogatory information on the former vice president,” Goodman and Potcovaru write. “The probe into the 2016 election would also provide, according to Giuliani, politically damaging information about ‘the Democrats’ and the Democratic National Committee.”

Former special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation took a close look at the 2016 Trump campaign’s interactions with the Russian government. But according to the conspiracy theory Giuliani has promoted, Goodman and Potcovaru note, the real collusion in 2016 was between Joe Biden, Ukrainian officials, the DNC and Hillary Clinton’s campaign.

Goodman and Potcovaru observe, “Giuliani also drove the specific idea that an investigation would show Biden was involved in the 2016 election interference coming out of Ukraine.”

The Just Security writers emphasize that when it comes to defaming Biden, Giuliani had a lot more on his mind than simply Burisma.

“It is widely understood that finding ‘dirt’ on Biden, one of Trump’s main political opponents in the 2020 election, was a primary objective of Giuliani’s efforts in Ukraine,” Goodman and Potcovaru write. “Most have presumed that the investigation into the Burisma firm was the sole means for doing so, and that the pressure on Ukraine to investigate the 2016 election was something separate — even if it was to damage the Democratic Party more generally. But the trail left by Giuliani and (Secretary of State Mike) Pompeo clearly shows that getting derogatory information on Biden was a key part of the other investigation that Trump and Giuliani pursued.”

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