Ted Cruz’s False Ukraine Narrative

There are so many lies and half-truths floating around the trial of Donald Trump that it is hard to know where to start. People who do fact checking for a living are working round the clock to try to keep up. I picked this one mainly because I am interested in it and because I see it as a deliberate, clever and sadly effective attempt to deceive masses of people. I have seen this approach used often by David Barton in his historical misadventures. Often, Barton takes a little truth, a little error and puts them together for a false story that seems plausible to the listener who wants to believe it.

In this case, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) has accelerated his promotion of the Russian narrative that Joe Biden’s opposition to Ukrainian prosecutor general Viktor Shokin in 2015 was motivated by a desire to bring financial gain to his son Hunter. Watch:

The main point is summarized by Cruz at the end:

If you have a sitting Vice President making public policy decisions to benefit his family to the tune of $1-million a year, that raises a serious question of corruption and a president is not only justified in asking for that to be investigated but has a responsibility to see that that’s investigated.

I suppose Cruz could defend himself by saying that he qualified his statement by saying, “if.” However, the video presents a narrative that has Joe Biden withholding over a billion in funds from Ukraine until the Ukrainian leadership fired Viktor Shokin, their prosecutor at the time. That part is true but incomplete. Cruz goes on to suggest Biden did that in order to protect his son’s company from scrutiny from investigation by that same prosecutor. That is false.

At the end of this post I provide annotated links to articles which describe the bipartisan and widespread support for the ouster of Shokin. Shokin was not investigating corruption in Ukraine which is why the U.S. wanted him removed. Biden acted on directives from the Obama administration. If anything, Shokin’s removal made an investigation of Hunter Biden’s company more likely because it increased the chances that a prosecutor with integrity would be appointed. If Biden wanted to help his son, he would have supported Shokin and wanted him to stay in office because Shokin was leaving Burisma (Hunter Biden’s company) alone.

This is fairly easy to learn by reading reports filed at the time in the international, U.S. and Ukrainian press. The Congressional Research Service also provided a similar perspective on this situation and was not controversial at all until Trump needed a defense of his efforts to get Ukraine to investigate Burisma. I have no doubt that Ted Cruz has been briefed on this and is aware that Shokin was not a reformer and that Biden did not act alone or in his son’s interest to get Shokin fired. He knows that U.S. and EU policy at the time favored the removal of Shokin and that Biden was just the person on the scene to carry it out. As Vice President, Biden’s presence in Ukraine signaled how serious the donor nations were, but he wasn’t acting on his own.

I realize I am speaking to readers who know this. Most, if not all, regular readers here know this. I am revisiting this because I want to document this shady use of events to craft a false narrative for myself and my teaching. I also want to provide the links below as a resource for those who want evidence to provide skeptical friends who have been bamboozled by Trump’s defenders.

Annotated timeline of Viktor Shokin’s tenure as Prosecutor General:

February 10, 2015Shokin replaces Yarema as top prosecutor – Viktor Shokin was a deputy under former prosecutor Vitaliy Yarema. Yarema failed to prosecute officials in former President Viktor Yanukovych’s administration and generally showed no results in fighting corruption. Shokin’s nomination was opposed by corruption fighters in Ukraine since he came from the same office as Yarema. The Ukrainian Weekly reported:

Fiery debate preceded the vote in which critics warned he’d perform just as badly as Mr. Yarema, having served at the heart of Ukraine’s corrupt law enforcement system for more than a decade, including under the Yanukovych administration.

Shokin did not have a reputation as a corruption fighter when he entered the job.

July 24, 2015Shokin and Guzir were “burned” under the GPU – After just five months on the job, the Center for Combating Corruption in Ukraine grew impatient with Shokin’s lack of action and burned him and others in effigy. This is a Google translation of the Ukrainian statement underneath the video.

Avtomaydan, together with the Center for Combating Corruption and activists from Kharkiv, Poltava, under the GPU, hold an action for the resignation of sabotage reformers of Prosecutor General Shokin and his deputies Huzyr and Stoliarchuk.

September 24, 2015Remarks by US Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt at the Odesa Financial Forum – In his remarks, Pyatt specifically scolded the Prosecutor General’s office for interfering with a UK investigation of Burisma. Shokin’s predecessor had failed to cooperate. Then Shokin failed to hold anyone accountable for the neglect of a thorough investigation of charges against Burisma. If Biden wanted to encourage corruption and take heat from Burisma, he would have left Shokin alone. Instead, Biden carried out U.S. policy and insisted he be relieved of his position.

October 8, 2015Testimony of Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee – Viktor Shokin was still Prosecutor General when Nuland said the following to the Senate committee:

Like Ukraine’s police force, the Prosecutor General’s Office has to be reinvented as an institution that serves the citizens of Ukraine, rather than ripping them off. That means it must investigate and successfully prosecute corruption and asset recovery cases – including locking up dirty personnel in the PGO itself;

October 12, 2015Sobolev’s case for firing Shokin steadily gains momentum – Ukrainian legislator Yegor Sobolev’s effort to get Shokin fired was featured in this Kyiv Post article. Biden was just one of many people inside and outside of Ukraine who wanted Shokin replaced. What did Sobolev have to gain from Shokin’s removal from office? According to Sobolev, legislators were fearful of speaking out because Shokin used the power of his office to target his political enemies.

Sobolev has so far collected 114 signatures in parliament for dismissing Shokin, still well short of the 150 signatures needed to put the issue on the agenda.

He said in an interview with the Kyiv Post that not a single signature has been collected since the Sept. 17 arrest of Radical Party lawmaker Ihor Mosiychuk on suspicion of bribery. Critics see the arrest as political revenge by Shokin for Mosiychuk’s support for his firing.

“After Ihor’s arrest everyone started thinking ‘what if this happens to me tomorrow’?” Sobolev said. “One of Shokin’s goals is to show to lawmakers what consequences could happen to those who submit signatures for his dismissal.”

October 31, 2015Protesters drive to Poroshenko’s mansion to demand dismissal of Shokin – About 200 protests drove to the Ukraine president’s house to call for Shokin’s removal. Were they working for the Bidens?

February 16, 2015; March 29, 2015 – It seems clear from a review of sources during the term of Shokin that he was not popular with reformers and corruption fighters. The U.S., EU, and Ukrainian politicians and civilians wanted him removed. Joe Biden delivered the message which was consistent with U.S. policy toward Ukraine. Shokin resigned initially on February 16, 2015. He didn’t leave office right away though and had to be voted out by the legislature which occurred on March 29, 2015.


48 thoughts on “Ted Cruz’s False Ukraine Narrative”

  1. If true, this doesn’t answer the question, why was Hunter Biden hired by Burisma? Was it his expertise, if not then why? Protection. It was highly unethical to say the least and should be looked into.

    1. FFS, does it matter? Someone you know mysteriously suddenly has a lot of money. So, you decide to break into their house to “investigate” and get caught red handed. I’m sure during your trial your lawyer would try to push the focus to the victim. But even if everything you suspect is true, it still does not absolve you of the crime. Even if everything you suspect is true, it still doesn’t change the fact that the correct course of action should have been to call the police.

    2. “It was highly unethical to say the least and should be looked into.”

      How was it unethical? Do you want to look into every powerful person’s children? How about Ivanka Trump, or Jared Kushner?

      But I’ll be fascinated just to hear about this whole “unethical” thing.

    3. I just want to make sure I understand your perspective: It is unethical for a child of an elected official to take a job for which they have no apparent qualifications. And when this appears to have happened, the parent and the child should be “looked into” for possible ethical and legal violations.

      Did I get that right?

      1. If you can’t see the corruption in government officials and what the Biden’s have been doing I probably can’t help you.

          1. What’s the matter, are you crying like a baby because our great President Trump got acquitted over bogus accusation of being involved in the Ukrainian affair? He was certainly railroaded by leftist Democrat politicians who hate religious freedom and want to impose oppressive political correctness on Bible-based Christians and other conservatives. I am thankful that Trump is standing up for us, unlike you who also want us crushed. Considering the fact that Biden is on the very bottom of voting as per Iowa caucus, it shows how worthless it was for Pelosi, Schiff, and AOC to bring up the charge against Trump in the first place. In other words, Biden does not pose any challenge to him, at all.

          2. What’s the matter, are you crying like a baby because our great President Trump got acquitted over bogus accusation of being involved in the Ukrainian affair? He was certainly railroaded by leftist Democrat politicians who hate religious freedom and want to impose oppressive political correctness on Bible-based Christians and other conservatives. I am thankful that Trump is standing up for us, unlike you who also want us crushed. Considering the fact that Biden is on the very bottom of voting as per Iowa caucus, it shows how worthless it was for Pelosi, Schiff, and AOC to bring up the charge against Trump in the first place. In other words, Biden does not pose any challenge to him, at all.

          3. The only thing true in your comment is Biden’s status. It was stupid for Trump to abuse his office to try to sabotage Biden since Biden is fading without Trump meddling. Never fear, though, Trump’s followers are talking about voting for Bernie to get who they think they can beat. If you can win fairly, then cheat. Very Christian.

          4. And this is the beauty of America democracy, we all have civil rights to vote for people to be our representatives in the Congress and White House who we think are reflecting our values. If you believe that Bernie represents your values, you are more than welcome to vote for him, or for other candidates that you like. I also don’t object if some Christians would vote for Sanders, that’s their right. But I am personally frightened by the political stances of him and Pelosi’s, that’s why I’m voting for Trump. He is much more close to my values than they are.

          5. In a Constitutional Republic, I will vote for who upholds that the best. A turnip would do that better than Trump so we’ll see who the Dems put up.

          6. I value freedom of speech, religious liberty, low income taxes and on small businesses, anti-illegal immigration. Look, no political leader is perfect, and Trump and Democrats tend to twist facts to get elected, but despite the problems they got, you gotta make a choice, and I choose Trump.

          7. And what has Trump done to support freedom of speech, religious liberty, anti-illegal immigration that you feel is better than any of his (potential) opponents?

            Further, what behaviour by Trump, would get you to say “he has gone too far.” such that your valuing of the above would no longer outweigh what Trump has done in office?

          8. Well, I think that Trump does better in realms of free speech, religious liberty, and most importantly economics than Sanders, who is now leading the polls in the Democratic primaries. Sanders has a reputation of disfavoring Bible-based Christians working for public office for instance, while Trump signed executive orders that encourage free speech in public colleges and condemn persecution of people with deeply held religious belief in workplace. His vice-president Mike Pence signed a similar law in his state of Indiana when he was a governor. As far as immigration is concerned, yeah, this system is still broken but things are a lot better in the economy and First Amendment field. Overall, I am afraid that they will get worse if Sanders becomes our next President, and Trump appears like the best solution to prevent that. But, it’s still too early to assume. Maybe, Sanders won’t win the primaries, and it’s going to be Elizabeth Warren. She appears like a reasonable woman. I’ll probably think more about it.

          9. I only know of 1 executive order Trump has signed regarding free speech on campus and it really does nothing. it “solves” a problem that didn’t exist and one that was already covered by the 1st Amendment. if you are talking about any other executive orders please feel free to cite them.

            What people have been “persecuted” for their “deeply held religious beliefs in the workplace”? Do you have some actual examples of this “persecution” you are referring to?

            As for the economy, it was Obama who turned that around. Trump has been trying to take credit for a lot of the Obama admin policies. When Trump took office the economy was already doing well. Granted Trump has continued that, however, his ballooning the debt by Trillions of dollars will likely cause long-term problems for the economy.

          10. Pence signed a bill called Indiana Senate Bill 101 as former governor. Trump signed a similar executive order:https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefings-statements/president-donald-j-trump-stands-religious-freedom-united-states/

            Like I said, I would vote for Trump is Sanders wins the Democratic Party nomination because Sanders terrifies me. I understand it might sound like a backwards reason to vote for a candidate but in an imperfect society, we are forced to pick not the best choices in order to prevent something much more harmful to come into the future. If Sanders will not be the nominee, I might reconsider my voting preference.

          11. Why does Sanders “terrify” you? A Pres. Sanders isn’t going to get any of his more extreme policies to happen any more than Trump is going to get his wall.

          12. To be exact, Sander’s political agenda terrifies me, especially his desire to suppress freedom of speech and religion. I’d expect he’ll rescind these two Trump’s executive orders. He might also increase taxes to such large margins that it will ruin our economy. It’s not much of an issue for me when it comes to immigration reform as it is for freedom of speech and religion and the economy.

          13. what “desire to suppress freedom of speech”? Do you have some specific quotes/policies that he is put forth?

            As to your “increase taxes” claim, I’m reminded of an old cartoon:

            Husband: “I don’t care what anybody says, I’m gonna vote for the guy who promises to reduce my taxes by the most.”

            Wife: “the President doesn’t set the tax rate, dear. Congress does that. It is in the Constitution.”

            Husband: “Well, then why do they all promise to lower taxes?”

            Wife: “Because they are counting on the rest of the electorate to be just as knowledgeable as you are dear.”

          14. Sanders doesn’t want evangelicals to be public servants and let alone to have any jobs. He thinks we are Islamophobic and homophobic, like many so-called progressives think. After reading this: https://friendlyatheist.patheos.com/2017/06/08/bernie-sanders-was-wrong-to-challenge-a-christian-nominees-theology/, I came to conclusion that he is the epitome of the leftwing bigotry, hence I would not be comfortable having him as our president.

            You are correct about Congress levying taxes, and considering that currently Democrats, including Schiff, Pelosi, and AOC are in control of the House, should they remain in power, plus becoming majority in the Senate, plus Bernie getting elected in November, I would expect our taxes to go up.

          15. Sanders goes after a christian bigot, and you turn that around to claim that it is Sanders who is being bigoted? Vought was the one who applied a religious test in supporting Wheaton’s firing of Hawkins.

            Yet you, in true Trumpian fasion, twisted the facts to try to claim it is Sanders who is apply a religious test.

            I certainly hope taxes do go back up. The budget Trump signed is adding TRILLIONS of dollars to the US debt. That debt needs to be paid down. Also, the debt raises slower (sometimes even decreases) under Democratic administrations than it does under Republican ones. i.e. democratic presidents have been more fiscally responsible in their budget negotiations than republican ones have been.

          16. Sanders couldn’t care less why Hawkins resigned from Wheaton. It should be noted that it was a private religious institution. But he made a bigoted assumption that because Vought has published a statement on Wheaton’s website stating their school’s position on Islam, that he hates Muslims therefore he is unfit to work for federal government supported by our taxpayers’ money. So in this regard, Sanders did use a religious test. It’s different compared to private organizations such as Wheaton. I wonder if Sanders has the same view on all Bible-based Christians that he has on Vought.

          17. No, YOU are the one making assumptions about Sanders. and the link you cited doesn’t support that assumption.

            Further, Sanders didn’t simply assume. He asked specific questions which Vought doged. Ex:

            SANDERS: And do you think your statement that you put
            into that publication, “They do not know God because they rejected Jesus Christ, the Son, and they stand condemned.” Do you think that’s respectful of other religions?

            A simple “Yes/No” question. the response:

            VOUGHT: Senator. I wrote a post based on being a Christian and attending a Christian school that has a statement of faith that speaks clearly with regard to the centrality of Jesus Christ in

            Notice, Vought never actually answers about the question that whas asked. However, this whole thing is nothing more than a case of political theater. Sanders was attacking a Trump appointee that he didn’t like. You however, have twisted that into claiming Sander’s is bigoted against christians (or perhaps just evangelicals).

          18. Look, you asked me a question why I feel not comfortable about Sanders becoming our president and I gave you my best answer. The fact is that many people know about this political theater, and even though Sanders might be well-meaning, he created a reputation as being hostile to Evangelical Christians. Because of this, it will give more power to the ‘religious right’ lobby who are right now aligned with Trump.

          19. No, SANDERS didn’t create that reputation, conservative christians twisted his words to create that false impression of Sanders.

            The fact that this mis-representation “terrifies” you while Trump does not, says more about you than it does Sanders.

          20. That certainly isn’t the impression you give. At the beginning of this thread you wrote:

            “because our great President Trump got acquitted over bogus accusation of being involved in the Ukrainian affair”

            that isn’t a comment from someone simply picking “the lesser evil” but rather someone blindly defending the inappropriate behavour of a sitting president.

          21. And I clarified that by great, I meant rather specific policies of Trump, especially religious freedom and freedom of speech. It doesn’t mean that I condone everything that he does. It just appears to me that many people here want to disenfranchise Bible-based Christians hence they see Trump as a threat because he has been advocating on our behalf.

            I agree with the Senate’s decision, the accusation of him wanting to investigate the Bidens activities in Ukraine out of fear that Biden would definitely beat him in elections seriously lacks merits. I wonder if Biden is doing so poorly in the primaries because after watching the impeachment trial of Trump, the public started to believe that Joe might have been doing something inappropriate in Ukraine indeed and if he publicly addresses this issue, would voters increase their support for him?

          22. “It just appears to me that many people here want to disenfranchise Bible-based Christians”

            No, what they want is for these “bible-based christians” to stop thinking they get special treatment simply because they are christian. That they are allowed to wave their bibles and declare laws they don’t like don’t apply to them.

            “the accusation of him wanting to investigate the Bidens activities in Ukraine out of fear that Biden would definitely beat him in elections seriously lacks merits.”

            again you misrepresent the facts. What Trump did was abuse the power of his office in an attempt at personal political gain.

  2. I had a discussion with a friend in 2016 about who would be a bigger disaster as President, Cruz or Trump. Despite all the lunacy of the Trump Administration, I still think a Cruz administration would be at least as bad if not worse.

    Trump is a lying bloviating corrupt narcissisist, but Cruz is all that with a greater degree of calculation and focus, more intelligence to be able to accomplish his malicious desires, and no apparent principles whatsoever. Plus, Cruz has long claimed to be an explicitly Christian leader, so a Cruz administration would be an even worse disaster for Christian witness than Trump has been.

    1. I disagree. While a Cruz admin would likely also be inept, I very much doubt Cruz would have given Kim what his family had wanted for generations: a meeting/recognition by a sitting US president; nor do I think Cruz would have risked starting a war with Iran; or betrayed our allies; or the numerous other ways Trump as tarnished the office of the pres.

  3. documenting shady use of language…er…outright lying, one could start with “Christian” lawyer Sekulow, who on day one of the trial was spouting so many lies (under oath one would presume) around the House Impeachment process that it was honestly disgusting.

    1. He started out Lying For Jesus some decades ago – so Lying for tRump now comes easily.

  4. Thank you for the links. I expect nothing more from a politician who now defends the person who insulted his wife, and accused his father of aiding in the assassination of President Kennedy. He has shown us who he is, and we should believe him.

  5. I appreciate the links. I’ve been a little distracted today by Alan Dershowitz’s contribution to the establishment of a totalitarian government where the Constitutional Republic we love used to be. Otherwise, I’d have more to say.

    1. I look forward to him explaining to us how, once President Trump has done away with elections, you know, in the public interest, that this is totally constitutional.

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