With the presidential transition officially beginning, right-wing media outlets are already trying to resurrect the manufactured scandal against President-elect Joe Biden that led to President Donald Trump’s impeachment a year ago: connect everyone possible to Biden’s son Hunter’s business dealings in Ukraine.
Following the news on Monday that Biden will nominate longtime aide Antony Blinken for the top cabinet position of secretary of state, right-wing media outlets are hyping up a narrative that Hunter Biden had previously asked to meet Blinken for coffee — though they cannot show that any improper discussions took place, nor that U.S. policy was in any way affected.
In the run-up to the election, Senate Republicans hyped a politically motivated investigation into Hunter Biden’s business dealings, which failed to substantiate any allegations of corruption or demonstrate any changes to U.S. policy on Joe Biden’s part. Also to the point, Blinken participated voluntarily in that probe — and the Senate GOP’s report already mentioned that Hunter Biden had sought to meet with him. The report contained no other substantive discussion about Blinken, nor even any innuendos of misconduct on his part.
For the latest salvo, right-wing columnist John Solomon — who served as a major conduit for Trump’s attorney Rudy Giuliani’s disinformation campaigns — posted Tuesday on his site that email records show Hunter Biden asking Blinken in March 2015: “Have a few minutes next week to grab a cup of coffee? I know you are impossibly busy, but would like to get your advice on a couple of things, Best, Hunter.”
Blinken responded in a friendly manner, Solomon writes, and later records and schedules suggest the men may have met in the next few months. But the meeting was so inconsequential, the Senate Republicans didn’t even put it in a report that was intended to damage Biden’s presidential bid.
Fox News’ online report on these exchanges also ends by repeating the false claim that when he was vice president, Biden “had pressured Ukraine to fire a prosecutor who had been investigating the company,” Burisma Holdings, that Hunter Biden had been working with. In fact, the firing of Ukrainian prosecutor general Viktor Shokin was the result of ongoing international pressure to eliminate corruption in that country — and that Shokin had not been investigating Burisma.
As Bloomberg reported in May 2019: “At the time Biden made his ultimatum, the probe into the company — Burisma Holdings, owned by Mykola Zlochevsky — had been long dormant, according to the former official, Vitaliy Kasko. ‘There was no pressure from anyone from the U.S. to close cases against Zlochevsky,’ Kasko said in an interview last week. ‘It was shelved by Ukrainian prosecutors in 2014 and through 2015.’” One of Fox News’ own corporate sister publications, The Wall Street Journal, even explained in 2019 that Shokin had been faulted by the international community for sabotaging investigations into Burisma — rather than pursuing them.
The Daily Caller is also running a story that Democratic political consultant Sally Painter, working at the firm Blue Star Strategies, had sought out a meeting with Blinken while her firm was working with Burisma, after approaching him at a Washington think tank event in June 2016.
How bad is the Daily Caller’s report? Even John Solomon included an important fact in his story — after several paragraphs about Painter having sought out such a meeting — from a deposition that Painter later gave: “Painter said she never got the follow-up audience with Blinken.”