Release of the transcript of President Trump’s call with Ukraine’s new president makes one thing clear — the Democrats are focusing on the wrong guy. They’re trying to use this episode to impeach Mr. Trump. What the conversation shows, though, is that Mr. Trump was enlisting help to do exactly what he had promised to do, drain the swamp. The culprit on whom to focus is Vice President Biden.
The transcript certainly confirms that Mr. Biden was mentioned by Mr. Trump in his call with Ukraine’s new president, Volodymyr Zelensky. And that Mr. Biden’s son, Hunter, was also mentioned. This shows up on the fourth page of the five-page transcript, after the two presidents were talking about how America gives more support to Ukraine than do the Europeans.
The President brought up that the prosecutor investigating Hunter Biden’s work in Ukraine had been “shut down.” Mr. Trump asked Mr. Zelensky to speak with Attorney General Barr and Mayor Giuliani. “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.”
Vice President Biden, Mr. Trump added, “went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution so if you ·can look into it ... It sounds horrible to me.”
The bragging by Mr. Biden to which Mr. Trump was referring was about the state prosecutor looking into, among other things, Hunter Biden. The bragging happened at the Council on Foreign Relations in January 2018. The former vice president was on a stage with CFR’s president, Richard Haass. The video of it is on Youtube.com. Mr. Biden is talking one of his visits to Kiev.
“I was supposed to announce that there was another billion-dollar loan guarantee,” Mr. Biden said.
“I had gotten,” he added, “a commitment from [President] Poroshenko and from [Prime Minister] Yatsenyuk that they would take action against the state prosecutor. And they didn’t. So they said they had — they were walking out to a press conference. I said, nah, I’m not going to — or, we’re not going to give you the billion dollars. They said, ‘you have no authority. You’re not the president.’”
“The president said — I said, call him,” Mr. Biden replied, evoking, the CFR transcript notes, laughter.
“I said, ‘I’m telling you, you’re not getting the billion dollars.’ I said, ‘You’re not getting the billion. I’m going to be leaving here in,’ I think it was about six hours. I looked at them and said: ‘I’m leaving in six hours. If the prosecutor is not fired, you’re not getting the money.’ Well, son of a bitch. [Laughter.] He got fired. And they put in place someone who was solid at the time.”
It will be argued that the prosecutor Mr. Biden was concerned about — Victor Shokin — deserved to be fired. And that it wasn’t just Mr. Biden who wanted him canned. Nonetheless, Mr. Biden threatened to hold up aid to get a prosecutor fired while his family might have come under scrutiny. The Monday Times reported that “no evidence has surfaced that the former vice president intentionally tried to help his son by pressing for the prosecutor’s dismissal.”
All the more reason, in our view, for Mr. Trump to have pressed for an investigation. The Democrats will need an electron microscope to find in the Trump-Zelensky phone call particles of either a quid or a pro or a quo that compare to the Uluru of a quid pro quo in the Biden-Poroshenko palaver. How are Speaker Pelosi and her Democratic caucus going to make a federal case out of Mr. Trump without sacrificing Mr. Biden?
Not that her left wing cares. What we take from the transcript of the Trump-Zelensky phone call is that Mrs. Pelosi caved to her left wing too soon. We’re not saying Mr. Trump’s presidency is out of danger. At the moment, though, it looks like the first fallout is that Mr. Biden may be too damaged to be the nominee in 2020. So if Mr. Trump survives, the chances wax that we’ll see a race between him and Senator Warren.
This editorial has been expanded from an earlier edition to include a paragraph noting that opponents of Mr. Trump argue that the prosecutor Mr. Biden was concerned about deserved to be fired — and linking to a New York Times reprise of the question.