George Kent To Congress: Giuliani Wanted Visa For Viktor Shokin, I Raised Concerns On Hunter Biden In 2015

George Kent, the deputy assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs, told lawmakers this week that Rudy Giuliani lobbied the State department to grant Viktor Shokin a visa in January.

Shokin is the Ukrainian prosecutor Joe Biden had removed, in line with a recommendation from the Obama State department and in keeping with similar calls from the EU and the IMF. The (successful) effort to have Shokin ousted is at the heart of Donald Trump’s unfounded accusations against Biden and his son Hunter.

The younger Biden served on the board of Burisma, a natural gas company which Trump and Giuliani continue to suggest was under investigation by Shokin when he was forced out by the US. There was no such active investigation at the time. Ukrainian and US sources have repeatedly said that the Burisma probe was dormant.

Kent’s closed-door testimony on Tuesday – details of which surfaced Friday afternoon – came amid a string of depositions from former and current officials including the president’s former top adviser on Russia and Ukraine Fiona Hill, EU ambassador Gordon Sondland, Mike Pompeo’s former top aide Michael McKinley and, of course, Marie Yovanovitch.

“Kent told congressional investigators the State Department had objected” to Giuliani’s visa request for Shokin, CNN reports. Ultimately, the former New York mayor did exactly what you would expect – he asked Trump to compel Pompeo to reverse the decision.

The visa “was never granted, although Giuliani eventually spoke with Shokin over Skype”, CNN goes on to note, adding that in their January 23 Skype call, Shokin delivered what Giuliani says is evidence of “coordination between Democrats and people in Ukraine as well as claims about Hunter Biden”.

Giuliani’s account of that interview includes the contention that Marie Yovanovitch was responsible for denying the visa and that she was “close to Mr. Biden”. Rudy’s writeup was among the documents included in the “packet of propaganda” turned over to lawmakers by State department inspector general Steve Linick earlier this month.

Bloomberg on Friday evening cited a trio of sources in detailing how Ukrainian oligarch Dmitry Firtash tapped into his connections back home to produce dirt on Biden. Ultimately, Firtash secured a statement from Shokin which Giuliani has trumpeted to the masses since last month. In July, Firtash added Joe diGenova and Victoria Toensing to his legal team. The husband-wife duo were outed last month as working with Giuliani to advance Trump’s agenda “off the books” and outside of official channels.

Read more: Giuliani Tapped Network Of Ukrainian Oligarch Firtash For Biden Dirt

Kent also told Congress that he tried to warn Obama officials about the bad optics surrounding Hunter Biden’s business interests in Ukraine, only to be ignored.

“Kent testified Tuesday that he worried that Hunter’s position at Burisma would complicate efforts by US diplomats to convey to Ukrainian officials the importance of avoiding conflicts of interest”, The Washington Post writes, citing people familiar with the testimony.

Kent – like other officials who were around at the time – “had concerns that Ukrainian officials would view Hunter Biden as a conduit for currying influence with his father”, WaPo says, recapping what’s known about his testimony.

However, when Kent attempted to voice those concerns with Biden’s office, “he was told the then-vice president didn’t have the ‘bandwidth’ to deal with the issue involving his son as his other son, Beau, was battling cancer”. Again, that’s according to people familiar with what Kent said on Capitol Hill this week.

All in all, the story that has emerged from the parade of officials who have recently spoken to House investigators is remarkably consistent. Irrespective of the bad optics around Hunter Biden’s decision to preserve his business interest in Ukraine while his father was overseeing US policy towards the country years ago, Rudy Giuliani’s shadow campaign (which, incidentally, is still going on for all anyone knows), was a source of extreme consternation for all parties involved, even Gordon Sondland.

“We were disappointed by the President’s direction that we involve Mr. Giuliani”, Sondland, a Trump donor, testified on Thursday. “Our view was that the men and women of the State Department, not the Presidents personal lawyer, should take responsibility for all aspects of  foreign policy towards Ukraine”.


Speak your mind

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

NEWSROOM crewneck & prints