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Were you wondering if the media has figured out how to deal with bad faith Republican attacks since the 2016 debacle? They have not! The GOP spinmeisters put their heads together and came up with a spiffy new Uranium One lie for 2020 -- oh, let's call it UKRAINIUM ONE -- and the "liberal" New York Times happily ran right off after it. Yeah, it's going to be another shitshow.


In the old version of this story, Hillary Clinton was a peripheral participant in a 2010 decision involving half a dozen other government agencies. A donor to the Clinton Foundation derived some marginal benefit from the decision. Well not really, since the donor, Frank Giustra, had sold his shares in Uranium One in 2007. But wingnut smear merchant Peter Schweizer was only too happy to crop out all the annoying details in his Mercer-funded book Clinton Cash (made into a film by Steve Bannon), wherein he pretended that Hillary Clinton had sold America's uranium supply to Russia to benefit a wealthy donor.

In the new version of this story, a coalition of western allies demanded that Ukraine fire its corrupt prosecutor Viktor Shokin in 2016 because he refused to charge members of parliament and powerful businessmen for crimes committed under ousted President Viktor Yanukovych. Then-Vice President Joe Biden threatened to withhold $1 billion of US aid if Shokin wasn't fired, and the Ukrainian Parliament eventually did vote to remove Shokin. At the time, the New York Times fretted that Biden's message was "undercut" because his son Hunter Biden was on the board of Burisma, a Ukrainian natural gas company whose owner Mykola Zlochevsky was under investigation by Shokin and various western governments for corruption. But now Rudy Giuliani is cranking up the GOP bullshit machine, and the Times is only too happy to play the Schweizer and pretend that Joe Biden forced Ukraine to fire good, honest Viktor Shokin to benefit his own son.

Here's how the Times reported the story in 2016:

In the final hours before Parliament voted him out, Mr. Shokin had fired his reform-minded deputy prosecutor, David Sakvarelidze, with whom he had been feuding. It was not immediately clear whether that firing would remain in force.

With the prosecutor's office in turmoil throughout Ukraine on Tuesday, one of Mr. Sakvarelidze's appointees in the Odessa regional office was arrested by military prosecutors, assumed to be loyal to Mr. Shokin.

Foreign donors had complained about rot in the prosecutor's office, not least because much of the money suspected of being stolen was theirs.

In one high-profile example, known in Ukraine as the case of the "diamond prosecutors," troves of diamonds, cash and other valuables were found in the homes of two of Mr. Shokin's subordinates, suggesting that they had been taking bribes.

But the case became bogged down, with no reasons given. When a department in Mr. Shokin's office tried to bring it to trial, the prosecutors were fired or resigned. The perpetrators seemed destined to get off with claims that the stones were not worth very much.

And here's how they reported it yesterday:

The broad outlines of how the Bidens' roles intersected in Ukraine have been known for some time. The former vice president's campaign said that he had always acted to carry out United States policy without regard to any activities of his son, that he had never discussed the matter with Hunter Biden and that he learned of his son's role with the Ukrainian energy company from news reports.

But new details about Hunter Biden's involvement, and a decision this year by the current Ukrainian prosecutor general to reverse himself and reopen an investigation into Burisma, have pushed the issue back into the spotlight just as the senior Mr. Biden is beginning his 2020 presidential campaign.

To be fair, the Times does acknowledge that the Obama administration, including Joe Biden, supported prosecution of Zlochevsky, Burisma's owner. But they repeatedly refer to "the Bidens' work in Ukraine," as if the vice president and his son were somehow in cahoots. And the paper gives ample space for Rudy Giuliani, the main proponent of this smear, to suggest that the multi-national pressure campaign to oust a crooked prosecutor can be reduced to Joe Biden's corrupt effort to enrich his own son.

"I can assure you this all started with an allegation about possible Ukrainian involvement in the investigation of Russian meddling, and not Biden," Mr. Giuliani said. "The Biden piece is collateral to the bigger story, but must still be investigated, but without the prejudgments that infected the collusion story."

And therein lies the main difference between 2016 and 2020. Because now Donald Trump controls the Justice Department, and he's clearly going to launch a fake investigation of his opponent Joe Biden based on this lie. They've already laid the groundwork by forcing Ukrainian prosecutors to reopen the investigation into Zlochevsky, who was cleared a year ago.

Mr. Giuliani has discussed the Burisma investigation, and its intersection with the Bidens, with the ousted Ukrainian prosecutor general and the current prosecutor. He met with the current prosecutor multiple times in New York this year. The current prosecutor general later told associates that, during one of the meetings, Mr. Giuliani called Mr. Trump excitedly to brief him on his findings, according to people familiar with the conversations.

Mr. Giuliani declined to comment on any such phone call with Mr. Trump, but acknowledged that he has discussed the matter with the president on multiple occasions. Mr. Trump, in turn, recently suggested he would like Attorney General William P. Barr to look into the material gathered by the Ukrainian prosecutors — echoing repeated calls from Mr. Giuliani for the Justice Department to investigate the Bidens' Ukrainian work and other connections between Ukraine and the United States.

Yes, "the Bidens' Ukrainian work," again. The New York Times is a happy helper, isn't it?

The rest of this Ukraine story is noise. But let's not lose sight of the fact that the Republicans are seeking to weaponize the Justice Department to attack Trump's likely political opponent for 2020, based on totally spurious allegations. And that is some banana republic shit right there.

But lets circle back to that thing that Giuliani said about "Ukrainian involvement in the investigation of Russian meddling," because that's the second plank of this bullshit theory. Hill hack John Solomon -- demoted to the opinion page after his own colleagues complained that his work could not possibly be called "journalism" -- is back flogging the same nonsense that the DNC is the real COLLUSION because a DNC staffer asked the Ukrainian government to confirm that Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort had received dirty money from Yanukovych backers. Which he had. In their version of the story, the massive Russian influence operation, dozens of contacts between Trump campaign officials and Russian emissaries, Trump's ongoing efforts to build the Trump Tower Moscow during the campaign, and his repeated lies about it are nothing compared to the DNC asking about Paul Manafort's actual crimes. Boy that chicken must be tired! (No, we're not linking to Solomon's story because fuck that guy.)

How Rudy Giuliani, a guy who shills for Ukrainian oligarchs and the Mujahedeen-e-Khalq, thinks he's going to dirty up Biden for supporting Ukrainian anti-corruption initiatives is a mystery. But the Clinton Foundation gave kids bed nets to prevent malaria and got smeared by Donald Fucking Trump so ... guess we better be prepared for this shit. At least this time we can see it coming.

[NYT]

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