The decade's most triggering comedy
House Republicans are probing the State Department over its “perception” of former Ukrainian prosecutor Viktor Shokin in 2015 after then-Vice President Joe Biden threatened to withhold $1 billion in U.S. aid to the country if Shokin was not fired.
In a Tuesday letter, Rep. James Comer (R-KY), the chair of the House Committee on Oversight and Accountability, asked Secretary of State Antony Blinken to provide more context on “certain sudden foreign policy changes” related to Ukraine and Shokin’s firing.
Biden has been accused of pushing Shokin’s firing to protect his son, Hunter Biden, who was then on the board of Burisma, a Ukrainian gas company facing corruption allegations. The White House has claimed that the move was because Shokin was not pursuing corruption in Ukraine.
The letter is part of the committee’s work investigating Biden’s “connections to certain international and domestic business transactions and practices, including his family and associates peddling influence to generate millions of dollars for the Biden family.”
“Shokin was elevated to lead the Office of the Prosecutor General in the midst of an ongoing, international investigation focused on corruption surrounding Burisma — a natural gas company in Ukraine — and its founder, Mykola Zlochevsky,” the letter said.
Comer said that the State Department was initially favorable toward Shokin at the beginning of 2015 but later decided to push for his firing. Comer cited a letter from State Department official Victoria Nuland “applauding” Shokin’s anti-corruption efforts. He also pointed to a memo from the Interagency Policy Committee that showed in September 2015 that another $1 billion loan to Ukraine would be approved.
Sometime later, though, the State Department policy toward Shokin cooled, and it began pressuring Ukrainian officials to fire him.
“On November 5, 2015, then-Vice President participated in a call with then-President of Ukraine Poroshenko and provided no indication that the United States’ policy regarding Ukraine required the dismissal of Prosecutor General Shokin. By late 2015, however, the removal of Prosecutor General Shokin became a condition of the loan guarantee by the United States,” Comer’s letter said.
According to the letter and comments from Hunter associate Devon Archer, the pressure for the termination came as Burisma corporate secretary Vadym Pozharsky was pushing Hunter to “deliver help from the U.S. government.” Archer said that Hunter “called D.C.” in December 2015 for a call with Burisma officials, a claim that House Republicans are still investigating.
Comer wants the State Department to provide calls, emails, and memos all related to policy on Burisma, Shokin, Burisma, and the billion-dollar U.S. loan to Ukraine.