Ukrainian authorities have closed a criminal investigation into Joe Biden, who was accused of wrongly bringing about the overthrow of the country’s attorney general in 2016, a police spokesman said.
The investigation opened in February after ousted prosecutor Viktor Shokin appealed to a court.
According to Ukrainian law, anyone can request an investigation in court if the state investigation bureau refuses to open an investigation itself. According to Vitaly Shabunin, the co-founder of the Anti-Corruption Action Center, a Kiev-based surveillance group, the courts overwhelmingly order prosecution, even without evidence, to initiate criminal proceedings.
President Trump put pressure on Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to announce an investigation of this kind last year, which led to Trump’s impeachment by the House of Representatives. Trump has been accused of using government power in a corrupt manner to seek political aid from Ukraine in the form of an investigation to try to discredit his democratic political rivals. The president was acquitted by the Republican-controlled Senate in a largely partisan vote.
Shokin was a central figure in Rudy Giuliani’s campaign against Biden, one of the main subjects of the impeachment process. Shokin alleged the former vice president pressured the current ex-president of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko to fire him for investigations into the oil and gas exploration company Burisma, which Biden’s son Hunter served on the board of directors until 2019.
Shokin has claimed he was forced to resign while addressing Hunter Biden’s role at Burisma, but an assistant prosecutor working under Shokin has done so said The Burisma case had been dormant at the time the US pressed for Shokin’s removal.
Several Western governments, including the Obama administration, had called for him to be replaced for not pursuing corruption cases, and Ukrainian investigators and anti-corruption watchdogs said Shokin was sacked for not making progress in the fight against corruption have.
Ukraine National Police spokesman Iaroslav Trakalo confirmed to NBC News that the case closed after Ukrinform news agency first reported the news.
Ukrinform released a statement from the National Police that no evidence of wrongdoing was found.
“After interrogation, we found out that Shokin voluntarily resigned from his post in 2016,” the statement said. “During the investigation, we did not find any confirmation that someone pushed him to resign.”
In an interview, Shokin said he was “outraged” by the decision.
“First, because this case was closed illegally,” he said. “Second – in nine months of the investigation, the police did not conduct a single investigation other than my own questioning.”
Shokin said he had already filed a lawsuit with the court to appeal the decision.
A Biden spokesman declined to comment.