Former Vice President Joe Biden insisted during the 2020 Democratic presidential primary debate on Tuesday night that neither he nor his son Hunter did anything “wrong” when it comes to the younger Biden’s past work in Ukraine.
Biden was asked why his son was able to hold a lucrative role serving on the board of a Ukrainian natural gas firm, Burisma Holdings, while he was running U.S.-Ukraine policy as former President Barack Obama’s vice president.
“My son did nothing wrong. I did nothing wrong,” Biden said. “I carried out the policy of the United States government, which was to root out corruption in Ukraine and that’s what we should be focusing on.”
Hunter Biden, earlier Tuesday during an interview with ABC’s “Good Morning America,” likewise defended his role, claiming he did nothing improper, though he did acknowledge it was “poor judgment” to have joined the company’s board.
“I know I did nothing wrong at all. Was it poor judgment to be in the middle of something that is a swamp in many ways? Yeah,” the younger Biden said Tuesday morning.
He also acknowledged in the interview that if he had a different last name, he would not have been appointed to the board of Burisma.
During the debate, Biden continued to defend his son, saying that his “statement speaks for itself,” and that the focus should be on President Trump asking Ukraine to interfere in the 2020 elections.
“Rudy Giuliani, the president and his thugs have already proven they are flat-out lying,” Biden said.
The Ukraine controversy began when a whistleblower reported that the president had pushed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to launch an investigation into the Biden family’s business dealings in Ukraine—specifically, why Biden pressured former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko to fire a top prosecutor, Viktor Shokin, who was investigating Burisma Holdings, where Hunter was on the board. The president’s request came after millions in U.S. military aid to Ukraine had been frozen, something critics have cited as evidence of a quid pro quo arrangement.
That whistleblower report and the fallout from the transcript of the highly controversial phone call between Trump and Zelensky this summer sparked a formal impeachment inquiry in the House of Representatives. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., though, said Tuesday that the House would not vote, at this point in time, to formalize the impeachment proceedings.
Biden maintained Tuesday that Trump’s efforts were simply because of his concerns surrounding his 2020 reelection chances, particularly against Biden. Several polls have shown Biden as Dems’ presidential frontrunner throughout the primary season, and some have further suggested he would have an edge against Trump in a general election.
“What we have to do now is focus on Donald Trump,” Biden continued, repeating a line he has used frequently on social media. “He doesn’t want me to be the candidate. He’s going after me because he knows if I get the nomination, I will beat him like a drum.”