Former US Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch testified Friday that she had been prepped by the Obama administration about Hunter Biden’s job on Burisma’s board of directors before her Senate confirmation, as Republicans pushed Chairman Adam Schiff to allow their questions about former Vice President Joe Biden and his son.
In response to questions from GOP counsel Stephen Castor, Yovanovitch said during the House Intelligence Committee’s second public hearing in the impeachment inquiry that she had been informed about the situation but took no action when she arrived at her post.
“As I said, I arrived in August of 2016, several months before the elections and several months before President Trump took office. And it was not a focus of what I was doing in that six-month period,” she said of Biden’s lucrative gig with the petroleum producer, which paid him as much as $50,000 a month despite his seeming lack of relevant experience.
Castor then pressed her on why she took no action.
“We — I was aware of it, because as I told you before, in the deposition, there had been a — in terms of the preparation for my Senate confirmation hearings for Ukraine, there was a question about that and a select answer. So I was aware of it, yes,” Yovanovitch said, not providing the answer she was coached to give.
“My understanding from newspaper accounts is that he just recently left, in 2019. I never met him, never talked to him.”
New York GOP Rep. Elise Stefanik later made a point of the seeming hypocrisy that while Democrats leading the panel had tried to quash questions about Burisma, the Obama administration had prepared Yovanovitch to answer them for the confirmation hearing.
“The exact quote from your testimony, Ambassador, is, quote, ‘the way the question was phrased in this model Q & A was, what can you tell us about Hunter Biden’s, you know, being named to the board of Burisma?’ So for the millions of Americans watching, President Obama’s own State Department was so concerned about potential conflicts of interest from Hunter Biden’s role at Burisma that they raised it themselves while prepping this wonderful ambassador nominee before her confirmation,” Stefanik said.
“And yet our Democratic colleagues and the chairman of this committee cry fowl when we dare ask that same question the Obama administration was so concerned about. But we will continue asking it.”
Republicans have repeatedly stressed Biden’s position with Burisma, and charged that his father Joe Biden, while vice president, fired a prosecutor who was investigating the company, Viktor Shokin.
Democrats responded that Republicans were trying to distract from President Trump’s call to Ukraine President Volodymyr, in which he asked him to investigate the Bidens and Burisma.
Biden, they said, was executing US policy by pushing for the prosecutor’s ouster because he was not fighting hard enough to thwart corruption, and that the EU and IMF also supported his firing.
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