Ken Vogel has a bullshit story to tell about Vice President Biden and his son Hunter Biden that would help the President’s reelection chances. Vogel’s story is bullshit, but he’s very upset that the President and Rudy Giuliani just won’t shut up long enough so that Vogel can peddle his bullshit.
Here's @kenvogel of the New York Times saying on MSNBC that he views Joe Biden son's work in Ukraine as "a significant liability for Joe Biden."
"There is a story here," Vogel adds, saying "we're going to continue to, sort of, pull that back." (I'm sure Trump is very grateful!) pic.twitter.com/HSl90pk6Zn
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) September 20, 2019
Former FBI Special Agent specializing in counterintelligence Asha Rangappa summarizes Vogel’s efforts very, very well.
So basically Vogel is saying that if Trump and Rudy would tone it down and not make it so obvious that they are illegally seeking foreign election assistance it would be much easier for the NYT to help them weaponize the disinformation they are trying to spread ? https://t.co/3ocVAQInbB
— Asha Rangappa (@AshaRangappa_) September 20, 2019
How do we know the story that Vogel, as well as the President and Rudy Giuliani, are peddling is bullshit? Because two different publications, The Washington Post and The Intercept have debunked it.
We previously fact-checked Trump's claims about Biden and Ukraine and found there was no there there –> https://t.co/8WBeNZjlqf
— Glenn Kessler (@GlennKesslerWP) September 20, 2019
A Republican conspiracy theory about a Biden-in-Ukraine scandal has gone mainstream. But it is not true. https://t.co/lJHc2IqzCd cites @dkaleniuk @OliverBullough @ANTAC_ua @kenvogel @danpfeiffer @JoeBiden @RudyGiuliani @StephaniBaker @nab_ukr
— Robert Mackey (@RobertMackey) May 10, 2019
And we know where this disinformation comes from, Russian government media outlets. And they started pushing it all the way back in 2014 most likely because most people reasonably assumed Vice President Biden, as the incumbent vice president would run to succeed President Obama positioning his campaign as a third Obama term (see the dates in the third tweet below). This also shows that Putin’s planning to interfere in US politics and the 2016 presidential election through information warfare goes farther back then has been previously recognized.
The Intercept notes Sputnik was an early propagator of the general Ukraine-Dems-collusion conspiracy theory. That Russian propaganda has now evolved into a more precision disinformation campaign against Biden by Trump, Giuliani, RW media. NB Sputnik planted that idea too—in 2014. pic.twitter.com/iiCSvio1yM
— Paula Chertok? (@PaulaChertok) May 11, 2019
Biden-Ukraine-collusion conspiracy theory may be the first clear indication of Kremlin-based disinformation campaign to help Trump in 2020 election. Russians are masters at this—muddy facts just enough to sully reputations & turn off voters. Is Giuliani a knowing or useful idiot? pic.twitter.com/YQo7Cb1SQZ
— Paula Chertok? (@PaulaChertok) May 11, 2019
There’s another piece to the puzzle that debunks Vogel’s, the President’s, and Giuliani’s bullshit disinformation that they lifted whole cloth from Putin’s information warfare campaign against the United States – the legal and Federal professional ethics piece. And here too, even if everything Vogel, the President, and Giuliani are alleging were true, which it isn’t as both the facts and the timelines do not line up, there is no there there. Here’s a deep dive into these issues to answer a question asked by former Federal prosecutor Ken White, who tweets and blogs as Popehat.
@renato_mariotti I mean, the record seems clear that ditching that particular prosecutor was the national and world community agenda, based on his failure to pursue corruption. But Biden’s participation looks bad. I think it’s worth a serious analysis.
— NotOutlandishHat (@Popehat) September 20, 2019
asked if anyone had done a law-based deep dive into the allegations that Biden somehow did something legally impermissible (i.e., conflict of interest) by being involved in the Ukraine prosecutor negotiations. I decided to look into it. BLUF: No /TweetstormFirst off, the general financial conflict of interest laws that generally prohibit Federal employees from participating in matters in which they have financial interests (namely 18 USC.208) expressly do not apply to the Vice President (nor the President). 18 USC 202(c)Moreover, w/r/t family members of executive branch employees, the primary financial conflict of interest statute only prohibits employees from participating in particular matters in which the employee, their spouse, or their MINOR children have a financial interest. 18 USC 208(a)So, even assuming for the sake of argument that the conflict of interest statute applied to the VP & even if the departure of the prosecutor were to have had an impact on Hunter’s finances (which all reputable reports suggest was an impossibility given the timeline of events)…the VP’s involvement in discussions re: the prosecutor still would not have constituted a criminal conflict of interest because Hunter was obviously not a MINOR child at the time.That said, if the Federal conflict of interest laws did apply to the VP, the fact that a criminal conflict didn’t exist under the statute wouldn’t have ended the legal analysis…Federal employees are also subject to Standards of Ethical Conduct, which are set out in broader regulations issued by the Office of Govt Ethics. 5 CFR 2635.Under the Standards of Ethical Conduct, Federal employees generally should recuse themselves from participating in certain matters even if there is no prohibited financial conflict of interest under 18 USC 208.Under 5 CFR 2635.502, an employee is generally required to recuse when there is a “particular matter involving specific parties, the employee has a “covered relationship” (such as a close family) and a reasonable person would question their impartiality.Applying this here, even if it were true (its not!) that the prosecutor was investigating the company Biden’s son was involved with at the time that Biden was engaged in discussions re: the prosecutor’s removal, its not clear that this rule would be directly applicable here…The rule, by its terms, only applies to “particular matters involving specific parties,” which is intentionally narrow and applies to specific proceedings affecting the legal rights of the parties or transactions between identified parties. 5 CFR 2640.102(1).Examples of such matters are particular contracts, grants, product approval applications, litigation, investigations, etc. Here, it seems a stretch to say that discussions re whether the prosecutor should remain in his position was a “particular matter involving specific parties”Moreover, even if you stretched & decided it met that definition, the particular rule would not apply directly here anyway, because Biden’s son (nor even the company) was most definitely NOT a party to the matter at issue (whether the prosecutor should remain in his position)…A caveat: there’s a catch-all provision at 5 CFR 2635.502(a)(2), acknowledging that even in other circumstances not addressed in the reg, an employee should generally recuse anytime their participation in a matter would reasonably raise a question re: their impartiality.If Biden’s son was involved with a company under active investigation by the Ukrainian prosecutor (again, apparently this is not true!)…I think nearly any Federal ethics official would have cited this regulation and advised the VP NOT to get involved in discussions regarding the future of the Ukrainian prosecutor, even if only to avoid creating the appearance of a potential conflictEven still, this is very much a judgment call and even under this incredibly-strained counter-factual hypothetical, the VP’s involvement still would NOT have been a criminal violation.
Vogel, the President, Giuliani, even the Vice President, are all peddling this bullshit or actively involved with trying to get Ukraine’s new president and his government to assist them in ratfucking the 2020 presidential election, really ratfuck the Democratic primaries, to the President’s benefit. So we already know the cui bono or who stands to benefit piece of this active measures information warfare campaign of disinformation aimed at the American people: the President. What we don’t know, but someone really should be looking into it, is what exactly does Ken Vogel get out of this? What does he stand to benefit? The real question here is why is Vogel clearly peddling debunked Russian disinformation that was created and first used back in 2014 to help obscure Putin’s moves to scarf up Crimea, invade the Donbass, and potentially dirty up a potential Biden 2016 candidacy? Is Vogel just a useful idiot or is he actively participating in an act of information warfare begun by Putin, weaponized by Giuliani and the President, which is intended to propagandize Americans in order to achieve Putin’s strategic interests? This is the real story, not the bullshit that Vogel is pushing. Enterprising reporters and investigators should be looking into it; trying to figure out exactly why Vogel is doing this and what he is getting out of it.
PS: Someone should really also be looking into exactly what it is that Giuliani has been doing in Europe, especially the post Soviet states, over the better part of the past ten to fifteen years supposedly as part of his consulting work as a security expert, which he is not. Journalists and investigators should also be looking into who has been paying for whatever it is he’s been doing. It isn’t all just beer, skittles, and cuckolding Marines. And it clearly has made Giuliani a very wealthy man.
Full Disclosure: I served as the Cultural Advisor (senior civilian advisor for culture) to the Commanding General of US Army Europe under temporary assigned control (TACON) from December 2013 to June 2014 and under operational control (OPCON) from June to August 2014. The views expressed here are solely my own and do not reflect those of US Army Europe and the US Army either in 2014 or now.