How the Hobbs Act Could Sink Joe Biden

How the Hobbs Act Could Sink Joe Biden.

To say the drive-by media have circled the wagons for Joe Biden is putting it mildly. Every day, in print and on their TV broadcasts, they thunder that there is no evidence! He broke no laws when his son raked off millions of dollars from China and Ukraine for no-show jobs. Even New Jersey’s most famous traffic judge seems to be confused. A guy in Ukraine also posits that Biden broke no laws there, either, as if there were really any laws to break in that wild West corruption show.

But as an American lawyer, who often has to advise public officials on state and federal ethics laws, I can say yes, just by the public record we already have, Joe Biden, his son, their bag-man Devon Archer, and possibly John Kerry likely violated 18 USC 1951, the dreaded Hobbs Act, the federal anti-extortion law. Hobbs has a really nasty bite to it for public officials, because it prohibits not just bribery, but merely the collecting of political tribute under color of official right.

A couple of important things to remember about Hobbs: “Color of official right” applies only to public officials while they are in office. This guy, for example, is very confused, mixing up Jeb Bush’s sleazy fundraising while out of office with Hillary’s activities in and out of office. It would apply to Hillary, for example, only during the time she was secretary of state. Also, the illegal payoff money can go to a close relative or associate, or even a charity, if there is enough of a connection to the accused, like the Clinton Foundation scam. Anybody assisting the public official in the pay-offs would also be guilty of conspiracy, at the very least.

Now, if you are up on your corruption law, you might ask, what about the SCOTUS 2015 decision in McDonnell v. United States? Didn’t that cut back on the effect of the Hobbs Act? Indeed, it did, but the Bidens’ conduct was so obvious and outrageous that they still easily meet the new standard.

In his unanimous opinion, Justice Roberts held that under the Hobbs Act, the prosecution must show two things. ”First, the Government must identify a ‘question, matter, cause, suit, proceeding or controversy that may at any time be pending or may by law be brought before a public official.’” Well, we have that: the very legitimacy of the entity known as Burisma Holdings in Ukraine was at stake, and whether the company, and its oligarch owner, Mykola Zlochevsky, faced prosecution or sanctions from both the United States and Ukraine. After several years of negotiations, Zlochevksy has returned, still in control, but there is no question that Burisma was very much a “matter” triggering the law.

Second, “the Gov­ernment must prove that the public official made a decision or took an action on that question, matter, cause, suit, proceeding or con­troversy, or agreed to do so[.]” The “official act” standard. And by golly, we have old Joe on tape bragging about an official act affecting Burisma — namely, the firing of the prosecutor, Mr. Shokin, in exchange for U.S. aid. Old Joe was put in charge of Ukraine foreign aid almost immediately after the Obama State Department putsch in February 2014. All of Biden’s meddling in Ukraine affairs by controlling the foreign aid to the Poroshenko regime are clearly “official acts.”

Now, the Biden defenders will retort that Mr. Shokin was a crook and the Burisma case was not going forward anyway. Put aside that this is highly disputed and is coming apart as more information comes to light. Here’s the problem for old Joe: it doesn’t matter.

Biden needed only to take an action that involved Burisma and its owner, and intervening with Ukraine over Mr. Shokin is more than enough to meet the elements of the law. Under the Hobbs Act, it doesn’t matter if Mr. Shokin was actually getting anywhere or whether the ultimate disposition of Burisma would have been at all different. The Hobbs Act was specifically written to punish elected officials who broadly trade on their offices, and boy, does it ever. Rest assured that Mr. Barr and Mr. Durham understand this only too well.

One more thing to consider: The guy who is really at the center of the scandal is Devon Archer, seen here in the famous golfing photo. Joe is now trying to deny knowing about Burisma and his son, but there is a mountain of evidence to the contrary, including Hunter’s own admissions. Remember, Hunter Biden is a wreck of a man from constant drug use, and Joe himself is too stupid to put together million-dollar bribery schemes.

The man who did is Devon Archer, who snagged his own job on the Burisma board almost immediately after John Kerry’s State Department put in the Poroshenko regime in 2014. Then he brought along his buddy, Hunter Biden, where they both made millions. Archer is a longtime close aid to John Kerry and a business partner with Kerry’s stepson, the billionaire playboy Chris Heinz. It’s also true that Kerry is Joe Biden’s closest Washington friend and ally. No wonder Archer, with such intimate connections to the two men, Kerry and Biden, whom Obama chose to oversee American aid to Ukraine, was on the first plane he could find to Kiev to offer his “services” in 2014.

Archer, by the way, nearly went to prison before, when his conviction for defrauding Indian tribes and pension funds was overturned.

If I were the prosecutor, I would consider giving Archer immunity, whether he asked for it or not, thus denying him the 5th Amendment rights before a grand jury and making him spill the beans. What were all the little favors the V.P.’s office and sec’y of state Kerry did for Burisma and Mr. Zlochevsky? Mr. Archer is a greedy guy, and he no doubt leveraged Mr. Biden and Kerry to the max. There’s plenty more to come out.

But just from what the Bidens have already put on the public record, we know they broke American laws, starting with the Hobbs Act, punishable by fines and imprisonment up to 20 years.

Frank Friday is an attorney in Louisville, Ky.

To say the drive-by media have circled the wagons for Joe Biden is putting it mildly. Every day, in print and on their TV broadcasts, they thunder that there is no evidence! He broke no laws when his son raked off millions of dollars from China and Ukraine for no-show jobs. Even New Jersey’s most famous traffic judge seems to be confused. A guy in Ukraine also posits that Biden broke no laws there, either, as if there were really any laws to break in that wild West corruption show.

But as an American lawyer, who often has to advise public officials on state and federal ethics laws, I can say yes, just by the public record we already have, Joe Biden, his son, their bag-man Devon Archer, and possibly John Kerry likely violated 18 USC 1951, the dreaded Hobbs Act, the federal anti-extortion law. Hobbs has a really nasty bite to it for public officials, because it prohibits not just bribery, but merely the collecting of political tribute under color of official right.

A couple of important things to remember about Hobbs: “Color of official right” applies only to public officials while they are in office. This guy, for example, is very confused, mixing up Jeb Bush’s sleazy fundraising while out of office with Hillary’s activities in and out of office. It would apply to Hillary, for example, only during the time she was secretary of state. Also, the illegal payoff money can go to a close relative or associate, or even a charity, if there is enough of a connection to the accused, like the Clinton Foundation scam. Anybody assisting the public official in the pay-offs would also be guilty of conspiracy, at the very least.

Now, if you are up on your corruption law, you might ask, what about the SCOTUS 2015 decision in McDonnell v. United States? Didn’t that cut back on the effect of the Hobbs Act? Indeed, it did, but the Bidens’ conduct was so obvious and outrageous that they still easily meet the new standard.

In his unanimous opinion, Justice Roberts held that under the Hobbs Act, the prosecution must show two things. ”First, the Government must identify a ‘question, matter, cause, suit, proceeding or controversy that may at any time be pending or may by law be brought before a public official.’” Well, we have that: the very legitimacy of the entity known as Burisma Holdings in Ukraine was at stake, and whether the company, and its oligarch owner, Mykola Zlochevsky, faced prosecution or sanctions from both the United States and Ukraine. After several years of negotiations, Zlochevksy has returned, still in control, but there is no question that Burisma was very much a “matter” triggering the law.

Second, “the Gov­ernment must prove that the public official made a decision or took an action on that question, matter, cause, suit, proceeding or con­troversy, or agreed to do so[.]” The “official act” standard. And by golly, we have old Joe on tape bragging about an official act affecting Burisma — namely, the firing of the prosecutor, Mr. Shokin, in exchange for U.S. aid. Old Joe was put in charge of Ukraine foreign aid almost immediately after the Obama State Department putsch in February 2014. All of Biden’s meddling in Ukraine affairs by controlling the foreign aid to the Poroshenko regime are clearly “official acts.”

Now, the Biden defenders will retort that Mr. Shokin was a crook and the Burisma case was not going forward anyway. Put aside that this is highly disputed and is coming apart as more information comes to light. Here’s the problem for old Joe: it doesn’t matter.

Biden needed only to take an action that involved Burisma and its owner, and intervening with Ukraine over Mr. Shokin is more than enough to meet the elements of the law. Under the Hobbs Act, it doesn’t matter if Mr. Shokin was actually getting anywhere or whether the ultimate disposition of Burisma would have been at all different. The Hobbs Act was specifically written to punish elected officials who broadly trade on their offices, and boy, does it ever. Rest assured that Mr. Barr and Mr. Durham understand this only too well.

One more thing to consider: The guy who is really at the center of the scandal is Devon Archer, seen here in the famous golfing photo. Joe is now trying to deny knowing about Burisma and his son, but there is a mountain of evidence to the contrary, including Hunter’s own admissions. Remember, Hunter Biden is a wreck of a man from constant drug use, and Joe himself is too stupid to put together million-dollar bribery schemes.

The man who did is Devon Archer, who snagged his own job on the Burisma board almost immediately after John Kerry’s State Department put in the Poroshenko regime in 2014. Then he brought along his buddy, Hunter Biden, where they both made millions. Archer is a longtime close aid to John Kerry and a business partner with Kerry’s stepson, the billionaire playboy Chris Heinz. It’s also true that Kerry is Joe Biden’s closest Washington friend and ally. No wonder Archer, with such intimate connections to the two men, Kerry and Biden, whom Obama chose to oversee American aid to Ukraine, was on the first plane he could find to Kiev to offer his “services” in 2014.

Archer, by the way, nearly went to prison before, when his conviction for defrauding Indian tribes and pension funds was overturned.

If I were the prosecutor, I would consider giving Archer immunity, whether he asked for it or not, thus denying him the 5th Amendment rights before a grand jury and making him spill the beans. What were all the little favors the V.P.’s office and sec’y of state Kerry did for Burisma and Mr. Zlochevsky? Mr. Archer is a greedy guy, and he no doubt leveraged Mr. Biden and Kerry to the max. There’s plenty more to come out.

But just from what the Bidens have already put on the public record, we know they broke American laws, starting with the Hobbs Act, punishable by fines and imprisonment up to 20 years.

Frank Friday is an attorney in Louisville, Ky.

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