Judicial Watch Sues for Records on Firing of Ukraine Top Prosecutor That Joe Biden Bragged About in Video

NTD Newsroom
By NTD Newsroom
September 26, 2019Politics
Judicial Watch Sues for Records on Firing of Ukraine Top Prosecutor That Joe Biden Bragged About in Video
Democratic presidential candidate, former Vice President Joe Biden greets guests at the Polk County Democrats' Steak Fry in Des Moines, Iowa on Sept. 21, 2019. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Judicial Watch announced a new Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit on Sept. 26 against the State Department for records relating to the firing of a top Ukrainian prosecutor after then-Vice President Joe Biden allegedly threatened to withhold U.S. aid.

During a Council of Foreign Relations Discussion in January 2018, Biden spoke about his dealings with Ukraine, telling the audience that he successfully forced the termination of a top Ukrainian prosecutor Viktor Shokin by withholding $1 billion in U.S. aid to the country.

The prosecutor was allegedly investigating a private Ukrainian gas company Burisma Holdings, where Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, served on the board of directors.

“I had gotten a commitment from [former Ukrainian President Petro] Poroshenko and from [former Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy] Yatsenyuk that they would take action against the state prosecutor. And they didn’t,” Biden told the audience.

“So they said they had—they were walking out to a press conference. I said, nah, I’m not going to—or, we’re not going to give you the billion dollars. They said, ‘you have no authority. You’re not the president. The president said’—I said, call him. I said, I’m telling you, you’re not getting the billion dollars. I said, you’re not getting the billion. I’m going to be leaving here in, I think it was about six hours. I looked at them and said: I’m leaving in six hours. If the prosecutor is not fired, you’re not getting the money,” he continued.

“[The prosecutor] got fired. And they put in place someone who was solid at the time,” he added.

Judicial Watch said in a statement that their lawsuit was filed after the State Department failed to respond to a May 2019 FOIA request.

According to the suit, the request was seeking documents “regarding, concerning, or related to Viktor Shokin’s investigation of [owner of Burisma Holdings] Mykola Zolchevsky and Shokin’s resignation at Ukraine’s Prosecutor General.”

It was also seeking records for “communication between any official, employee, or representative of the Department of State and any official, employee, or representative of the Office of the Vice President regarding Viktor Shokin.”

“The latest assault on President Trump is an obvious attempt to protect Joe Biden from the corruption scandals involving his son,” said President of Judicial Watch, Tom Fitton. “Judicial Watch’s latest lawsuit will be the first of many to try to get to the bottom of this influence-peddling scandal.”

Biden’s dealing in Ukraine has come into the spotlight after Democratic lawmakers made accusations based on media reports that President Donald Trump had pressured Ukranian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate the former vice president in a July phone call.

The transcript of the phone call shows that although Trump did ask Zelensky to look into Biden, he did not exert pressure or offer any payment when making that request.

The Trump-Zelensky call is the subject of an anonymous whistleblower complaint sent to the Intelligence Community Inspector General (ICIG). The handling of the complaint sparked controversy on Capitol Hill after the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) failed to comply with demands from the House Intelligence committee to hand over the complaint to Congress.

The DOJ’s Office of Legal Counsel released an opinion (pdf) that found that Joseph Maguire, acting director of national intelligence (DNI), did not have to send the complaint to Congress. Moreover, the inspector general also found “some indicia of an arguable political bias on the part of the Complainant in favor of a rival political candidate.”

Reports about the call and the complaint also prompted House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to launch an impeachment inquiry into the president.

A redacted whistleblower complaint has also been made public on Sept. 26 and the acting director of national intelligence provided testimony in Congress earlier in the day.

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