Matt Grocott

Last week, I had the pleasure of sleeping in a tent for a whole six nights! I can’t remember the last time I went camping so it was a real joy to restfully fall asleep to the sounds of the forest. In the woodsy neighborhood where I pitched my tent was an owl or two calling out each night. And as soon as everything quieted down and it was good and dark, out would come mysterious critters, scurrying around the perimeter of my site, occasionally breaking the boundary and knocking over a pot, a pan or some other item. What exactly fell over remained unknown until morning because I wasn’t about to crawl out of my warm cocoon to check. It could wait!

In the morning, it was wonderful to wake at daybreak to the sound of song birds twittering around and chirping their tunes. Also heard were the squirrels, scratching their route up and down the bark of the redwood trees as they hunted for breakfast. Amidst this wonderful scene, everything would abruptly change when the late comers would suddenly swoop in ... the blue jays!

I am not sure why the jays would always arrive so late. Perhaps they stayed up too late partying? When they did show up, there was always an argument between them and the squirrels. Then the song birds, not wanting a confrontation, would simply fly away. In the end, my site denigrated into a squalor of squawking and screeching by the congress of jays. Unpleasant!

On Friday, while driving home, I was giving thought to this column and thinking I would write something light-hearted and non-political, when all of a sudden, what should come on the radio but a late-breaking news story by The New York Times. As reported in the broadcast, President Trump had made a phone call back in July to congratulate a newly elected president of a country that had been wracked by corruption, and while on the call, he had the audacity to suggest that this new leader reopen investigations shut down under the country’s previous administration.

“Lions and tigers and bears, oh my,” I thought, “we are back into the woods again, searching and hunting and hoping for a reason to impeach President Trump! Will the never ending screeching and squawking ever end?”

The call our president had made was to Ukraine’s new president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, and the reopening of numerous investigations included one into Burisma Holdings, a natural gas company for which former Vice President Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, served as a director.

Over the weekend, I dug into the story more and, the more I dug, the more I began to think that this may not turn out to be a “nothing burger” trumped up by the major media on the president. It very well could turn out to be the impetus to restart an investigation that was dropped while Joe Biden served as vice president of the United States.

In a speech given by the former vice president two years after he left office, the senior Biden recounted a story of one of a dozen trips he had taken to Kiev as chief point man to the Ukraine for the Obama administration. On the 12th or 13th trip, he was set to announce to the Ukrainian government that the United States was guaranteeing another billion-dollar loan to the troubled country. In his own words, he admitted to threatening the Ukrainian government that the funds would not be forthcoming if they did not first fire their lead state prosecutor. “I said, ‘we’re not gonna give you the billion dollars … I’m telling you, you’re not gettin’ a billion dollars. ... I’m gonna be leaving here in six hours … if the prosecutor is not fired, you’re not gettin’ the money.’ Well son of a bitch … he got fired!”

The official the former vice president succeeded in getting fired was prosecutor general Viktor Shokin, who at the time was conducting a deep and broad investigation into corruption charges of Burisma Holdings and Hunter Biden.

Now stop and think about this for just a moment: If the names were changed, if it were President Trump who had threatened to withhold a billion dollars and if the prosecutor general had been looking into corruption charges against one of the president’s sons, either Donald Trump Jr. or Eric Trump, what do you think the headlines in the news would be? What would they be reporting every hour on the radio? What would be streaming across CNN on every television at every airport across the nation? And following their lead, what kind of impeachable offense would the Democrats be hitting the president with in the House? “President obstructs justice?”

A former member of the San Carlos City Council and mayor, Matt Grocott has been involved in political policy on the Peninsula for 17 years. He can be reached by email at mattgrocott@comcast.net.

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(4) comments

Tim E Strinden

Grocott said he dug into the story, but he either missed or distorted key facts, as may be easily checked with many news outlets. The facts show that there was no wrongdoing by Joe Biden. Prosecutor Shokin was not conducting an investigation of Burisma Holdings or Hunter Biden at the time he was fired, and never had. That investigation of Burisma had been shelved since before Shokin was appointed in Feb. 2015, and he was fired in March 2016. Shokin's deputy, Vitaliy Kasko, urged Shokin to pursue such investigations, but he refused to do so. As a result, Kasko resigned just before Shokin was fired.







The push to fire Shokin first came from the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine because Shokin was soft on corruption. Biden pursued it because part of his mandate in Ukraine was to help clean up the corruption left from the previous pro-Russia government. Biden and his son had nothing to gain by replacing Shokin with another prosecutor who might be more effective at pursuing corruption cases, including that of Burisma Holdings.







Grocott may want to dig into the facts more deeply next time before posting another knee-jerk defense of Trump. The best source I found for the facts in this case is Bloomberg News: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-05-07/timeline-in-ukraine-probe-casts-doubt-on-giuliani-s-biden-claim.


JME

(Only twenty Republicans are needed it seems....)


vcwestern

Mr. Grocott instructs us to stop and think just a little too quickly, before doing a little probing into the facts behind the firing of the Ukraine prosecutor. The Trump administration implies incorrectly that the prosecutor was investigating corruption by Hunter Biden, and Mr. Grocott repeats this implication. But a fact check at



https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2019/05/23/fact-checking-president-trumps-wild-jabs-joe-biden/



reveals that detailed investigations show no wrongdoing by either Hunter or Joe Biden, and the firing was actually an anti-corruption move. Who is more believable, Trump or the Washington Post?


Cindy Cornell

You may wish to hold on to your horses and wait for more details on the Ukraine story, and actually include the details you don't like. Biden was not the only world leader calling for that official to be fired. Many countries were calling for the same thing.


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