‘Maybe I knew that once and have forgotten, but I’m not familiar with that now…’
(Ben Sellers, Liberty Headlines) If President Richard Nixon’s Watergate investigation spawned a generation of sloppy, biased journalists, then House Democrats’ Ukraine affair may well do the same for the legal field.
On Friday, House Intelligence Chair Adam Schiff, D-Calif., and Democratic counsel Daniel Goldman took turns asking leading questions and peddling misinformation during the impeachment-probe testimony of former Ukrainian Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch.
Among the disgraceful tactics deployed was an attempt to smear the president and his supporters by linking them to a corrupt Ukrainian prosecutor whom the Obama administration had a likely hand in promoting—and who was responsible for dropping an investigation against former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter.
While Schiff claimed in his opening statement that Yovanovitch was “very direct, she made points very clearly and she was, indeed, tough on corruption”—citing the words of her replacement, acting Ambassador William Taylor—Yovanovitch herself came across as vague, tentative and noncommittal in her testimony.
She frequently seemed uninformed of the matters on which Goldman sought to solicit damaging sound-bytes in order to smear and undermine the decision-making of President Donald Trump.
“Maybe I knew that once and have forgotten, but I’m not familiar with that now,” she said after Goldman asked whether she was familiar with allegations Russian leader Vladimir Putin had made against Ukraine concerning interference in the 2016 U.S. election.
Regarding allegations of corruption that involved Joe and Hunter Biden advocating for the Ukrainian energy company Burisma while it was under investigation—and ultimately pressuring officials to fire if the investigating prosecutor, Viktor Shokin—Yovanovitch also pleaded ignorance to the high-level discussions being conducted on her watch by the Obama administration.
“There have been rumors out there about things like that, but there was nothing hard—at least nothing that I was aware of,” she claimed.
Biden admitted in a 2018 panel discussion with the Council on Foreign Relations that he had pressed for Shokin’s firing.
Other hard evidence—based on open records requests by Hill columnist John Solomon—has revealed that many high-level discussions took place between Burisma representatives and Obama’s State Department officials.
Those included meetings with Burisma board members Hunter Biden and Devin Archer—a former senior adviser to then-Secretary of State John Kerry—with top State officials including Kerry.
Rather than address this evidence in Friday’s hearing, Schiff and Goldman sought to smear the reporter and imply that it was part of an intimidation effort led by Trump.
Schiff—in what surely would have brought an objection in a court of law—asked Yovanovitch point-blank if she felt tweets by the president defending himself had been designed to intimidate her and other witnesses in the sham hearing.
“I can’t speak to what the president is trying to do, but I think the effect is to be intimidating,” she said.
….They call it “serving at the pleasure of the President.” The U.S. now has a very strong and powerful foreign policy, much different than proceeding administrations. It is called, quite simply, America First! With all of that, however, I have done FAR more for Ukraine than O.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 15, 2019
Prosecutor Shell Game
Both Goldman and Schiff also sought to exploit the public’s limited awareness of Ukrainian politics by conflating two former prosecutors-general.
Repeatedly, they invoked the name of Yuriy Lutsenko, seeking to link the Obama-backed prosecutor to Trump
They attacked Lutsenko—who was installed during Yovanovitch’s tenure and largely overlapped with her time as Ukrainian ambassador—for his failure to prosecute corruption.
Ironically, it was Lutsenko who dismissed the investigation against Burisma. He was later cited by left-wing media such as Bloomberg—and by the official “whistleblower” complaint that triggered the investigation—as the source of claims that there was “no evidence” to support allegations against the Bidens.
Those claims have been widely repeated in the liberal media echo chamber, although there is a preponderance of evidence to contradict them.
Lutsenko—who does indeed have a long history of corruption linked to Ukraine’s liberal wing—later recanted his assertions but has continued to waiver on whether the Bidens were part of the official Burisma investigation.
Biden himself had high praise for Lutsenko in the same panel discussion where he admitted pressuring officials to fire Shokin.
“I looked at them and said, ‘I’m leaving in six hours. If the prosecutor is not fired, you’re not getting the money,” Biden recalled. “Well, son of a b**ch, he got fired—and they put in place someone who was solid.”
President Trump, on the other hand, pressed for Lutsenko’s dismissal in the same July 25 phone call where he encouraged newly elected Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to beware of Yovanovitch. Lutsenko ultimately was ousted in August 2019.
Although Trump was unquestionably referring to Shokin in the July transcript as the fired prosecutor who was “treated very badly” by the Obama administration’s puppet Ukrainian government, during the Yovanovitch testimony, Goldman falsely suggested that it was Lutsenko—who was still in office then—whom Trump was rushing to defend.
As noted in the whistleblower document, Trump had previously praised Lutsenko during the short span of time that he acknowledged the Bidens were part of the investigation he had conducted into Burisma.
However, no evidence exists publicly to support the claim that he was working closely with Giuliani to smear Yovanovitch. Rather, contradictory evidence suggests that the corrupt prosecutor was largely allied with—and subject to pressure from—those supporting the Democrats’ efforts not to investigate Burisma.