President Donald Trump used a false claim about former Vice President Joe Biden to explain to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky why Biden should be investigated.
Trump also made a confusing apparent reference to a conspiracy theory about CrowdStrike, the American cybersecurity firm that investigated the 2016 hack of the Democratic National Committee.
The claim about Biden
According to a White House transcript released Wednesday, Trump said to Zelensky during a phone call in July:
“There’s a lot of talk about Biden’s son, that Biden stopped the prosecution and a lot of people want to find out about that so whatever you can do with the Attorney General would be great. Biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution so if you can look into it…It sounds horrible to me.”
Facts First:Joe Biden did not brag that he stopped any prosecution. Rather, he bragged that he had successfully pressured the Ukrainian government to fire a prosecutor who was widely criticized for failing to bring corruption prosecutions.
Trump’s suggestion was that Biden had boasted of stopping the “prosecution” of the business dealings of Mykola Zlochevsky, the owner of a company, Burisma Holdings, for which his son Hunter Biden sat on the board of directors.
But there was no actual prosecution of Zlochevsky or Burisma — just an investigation that had not produced any prosecutions and that does not seem to have been pursued vigorously.
There is no evidence Joe Biden ever tried to thwart this investigation, much less that he boasted about doing so.