Commentary: Washington Post Buried Proof of Joe Biden’s Bribery

by James D. Agresti

After ignoring smoking gun emails on Hunter Biden’s laptop for more than two years, the Washington Post has finally reported they exist and are authentic.

However, the paper’s lead “fact checker” Glenn Kessler, continues to deny that Joe Biden engaged in bribery and obstructed justice—even though the emails prove that he did.

While weaving this tale, Kessler unwittingly raises issues that cement Biden’s guilt and implicates the Washington Post in burying the evidence.

The Context 

In April 2014, while Joe Biden was the vice-president, he traveled to Ukraine and publicly promised its legislators that the U.S. would help Ukraine increase its fossil fuel production. In the very same month:

This and other incriminating emails from Hunter Biden’s laptop—falsely labeled as “Russian disinformation” by Joe Biden and the media—have been broadly and indisputably verified as authentic.

The Smoking Gun Emails

One year later in April 2015—after the oligarch’s company had paid the Delaware corporation at least $2 million—one of the oligarch’s top executives met with Hunter and Joe Biden at a restaurant near the White House named Café Milano.

Despite multiple emails proving the meeting happened, the Biden campaign, Kessler, and numerous media outlets casted doubt on this fact until a photo and testimony from one of the attendees confirmed that both Bidens dined that night at Café Milano with the gas company executive and several of Hunter’s other business partners.

Seven months after that in November 2015, the same executive sent a graphically incriminating email to Hunter and his partners in which he:

  • told them to “proceed immediately” with getting “high-ranking US officials” to “visit” Ukraine and convince “the highest level of decision makers” to “close down” all “cases/pursuits against” the oligarch.
  • identified the “President of Ukraine” and the “Prosecutor General” as two of their “key targets.”
  • reminded them that ending these criminal cases was the “true purpose” and the “ultimate purpose” of their “engagement” and “all our joint efforts.”

Hunter’s partners then discussed the executive’s email among themselves while making clear that Hunter and anonymous high-ranking U.S. officials would handle the matter, writing:

  • “I would tell” the executive that we “deliberately” didn’t mention the names of the top U.S. officials who will shield the oligarch from prosecution “to be on the safe and cautious side.”
  • “Hunter, You need to deliver that message.”

Hunter then replied to the executive, “Looking forward to getting started on this,” and Joe Biden proceeded to do exactly what the emails specified word-for-word:

  • Almost “immediately” after the Hunter wrote that he was “getting started,” the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine announced eight days later that “Vice President Biden”—a “high-ranking US official”—“will travel to Ukraine” within a month.
  • During that trip, Biden pressured “the highest level of decision makers” in Ukraine to fire the nation’s chief prosecutor by singling out “key targets” in the email. Biden threatened Ukraine’s president and prime minister that he would withhold a U.S. billion-dollar loan guarantee unless the “state prosecutor” was fired. “If the prosecutor is not fired,” warned Biden, “you’re not getting the money.” Biden then bragged, “Well, son of a bitch, he got fired.”
  • The replacement prosecutor—who Biden called “solid”—then agreed to drop all criminal charges against the oligarch if he paid back taxes and penalties. This led the oligarch to praise the deal, saying that it would allow his company to increase “production” and “attract international companies to Ukraine.”

Given the crystal clear words of these emails, the actions of Joe Biden align with textbook definitions of bribery, extortion, and obstruction of justice. Yet, the Washington Post’s chief “Fact Checker,” Glenn Kessler, is denying these implications.

The Post Knew

Even though Tucker Carlson exposed the first of the smoking gun emails in October 2020, the establishment media completely ignored Carlson’s report and the entire cache of related emails for the next 31 months.

During this media blackout, Just Facts found the replies from Hunter and his partners, proving beyond a reasonable doubt in August 2022 that Joe Biden obstructed justice and engaged in bribery.

For nearly a year after that, Just Facts asked dozens of journalists, editors, producers, commentators, and elected officials to address this evidence, but few would. Among those who did were the Bongino Report, radio hosts Eric Metaxas and Rich Valdes, and Just Facts’ syndication partners like the Heartland Institute, Grabien, the Tennessee Star, the Thinking Conservative, Issues & Insights, and Zenger News.

Then in July 2023, Fox News answered the call with an explosive article featured at the top of its website with quotes from Republican lawmakers like these:

  • “There can be no doubt about Burisma’s motives for paying Hunter Biden millions despite his lack of industry expertise, it’s right there in black and white.” – Senator Chuck Grassley
  • “Putting personal interests ahead of American interests is not just a dishonor of the office, but treasonous. It is a major scandal unprecedented in the annals of our history and the House Oversight and Accountability Committee will investigate and expose as much of the ugly truth as possible.” – Congressman Paul Gosar
  • “Our President is compromised, he should resign and be forever condemned, and the Democrat Party should begin rebuilding itself.” – Congressman Clay Higgins

This prompted the Washington Post to finally acknowledge the emails existed, the first and only major news outlet besides Fox and the New York Post to do so. In the WaPo’s article, Kessler reported that the “explosive” emails were “verified by two security experts,” hyperlinking to a March 2022 article in the Post as proof of this. This 2022 article reported that the experts verified “some” emails “from Hunter Biden’s work” with the “Ukrainian energy company” but that the:

Post’s review of these emails found that most were routine communications that provided little new insight into Hunter Biden’s work for the company.

That statement is an abject falsehood, as evidenced by the actual content of the emails. These facts show that the Post was aware of the smoking gun emails and knew they were authentic for at least 16 months. Yet, the Post described them as “routine” and failed to report what they contained, effectively burying them.

Nevertheless, Kessler begins his piece by painting Republicans as disingenuous. He does this by writing that “Republican lawmakers expressed outrage” over the “email chain” even though “Tucker Carlson, then a Fox News host, devoted an entire show to this email in October 2020.” Kessler claims this proves “the Hunter Biden saga apparently can be endlessly recycled for maximum impact.”

To the contrary, Google shows that the media ignored the email chain unearthed by Carlson and Just Facts so broadly that no members of Congress publicly commented on them before the recent Fox News article—more than two years after the existence of the laptop was revealed by the New York Post.

Kessler is also wrong that Carlson devoted an “entire show” to the email. In reality, Carlson spent a portion of one segment on it, or about a seven minutes.

More importantly, Kessler fails to note that Carlson only reported on the first email in the chain, which reveals that the gas company executive wanted Hunter and his partners to stop the criminal cases against the oligarch. The rest of the emails uncovered by Just Facts prove that Hunter and his partners:

  • agreed to do what the executive wanted.
  • concealed the names of top U.S. officials who would protect the oligarch to “be on the safe and cautious side.”
  • wrote that only Hunter could credibly promise to convince the officials to protect the oligarch.

This isn’t the end of Kessler’s misinformation.

Kessler’s Counterfactual “Bottom Line”

Remarkably, Kessler claims that Joe Biden demanded the firing of the prosecutor not because he was prosecuting the oligarch who was enriching Hunter but because he wasn’t pursuing the oligarch “aggressively” enough. Kessler says this is “the bottom line” while ignoring these facts that contradict his story:

  • Other emails from Hunter’s laptop prove that the previous prosecutor was aggressively pursuing the oligarch while Hunter was secretly trying to stop him:
    • In May 2014—months before the smoking gun emails above were sent—the very same executive wrote to Hunter, “We urgently need your advice on how you could use your influence to convey a message / signal, etc. to stop what we consider to be politically motivated actions” against the oligarch by a party “represented in the government by the General Prosecutor” and another person.
    • One day later, an attorney at the law firm where Hunter worked instructed the executive to email her “directly with all communications related to the current politically motivated attacks” and “include in the ‘Subject’ line of the email ‘Attorney-Client Communication: Privileged & Confidential” as I have done above. This will help protect as confidential our communications about such important and sensitive issues.”
  • Months before any information about Hunter’s laptop became public, an informant reported to the FBI that he personally spoke with the oligarch several times in 2015–2019, and the oligarch stated that:
    • the current chief prosecutor (Viktor Shokin) was conducting an investigation that “would have a substantial negative impact” on his business, but Hunter Biden “will take care of all of those issues through his dad.”
    • he saved “recordings” and “documents” that prove he was “coerced into paying the Bidens to ensure the Ukraine Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin was fired.”
    • “it costs 5 (million) to pay one Biden, and 5 (million) to another Biden.”
    • “he did not send any funds directly to the ‘Big Guy’,” and therefore, it will take investigators “10 years to find” the “illicit payments to Joe Biden.”

How Washington Works

Kessler also asserts that Joe Biden was merely following the orders of his underlings at the State Department when he threatened to withhold U.S. support from Ukraine.

“Biden was carrying out a policy developed at the State Department,” declares Kessler, and “it’s important to remember that Biden, even though he was the Obama administration’s point person on Ukraine, did not have a free hand to implement policy as he wished. That’s not how it works in Washington.”

Kessler’s narrative about how Washington works is directly refuted by a 2015 State Department memo prepared for “Vice President Biden’s Meeting with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko” on December 7–8. The memo—written two weeks before Biden’s visit to Ukraine—bluntly tells him, “You will sign our third billion-dollar loan guarantee and publicly announce FY 15 U.S. assistance for the first time: $189,035,756.”

Yet, in his own words, Biden told Ukraine’s president and prime minister at that meeting, “If the prosecutor is not fired, you’re not getting the money.” This was not an idle threat. In opposition to what the State Department told Biden to do in this meeting, he withheld the loan guarantee until six months later in June 2016—or three months after the president of Ukraine forced the chief prosecutor to resign.

The State Department memo did call for the removal of Shokin, but not as a condition of receiving the loan guarantee. This doesn’t even slightly exonerate the Bidens because emails from Hunter’s laptop show he had been lobbying the State Department for months to make the more than a year to protect the oligarch.

In the same May 2014 exchange in which the gas company executive asked Hunter for help with stopping the prior prosecutor, the attorney who told the executive to keep their communications confidential also wrote to the executive, “I recommend that you authorize me to take the following actions to begin communicating” on your company’s “behalf with the U.S. government.” Among the actions she offered to take were these:

  • “Contact the Bureau of Energy and Ukraine Desk officials at the State Department to introduce them to” your company and “explain” the “current situation, which will include the issues you’ve emailed me about today.”
  • Reach out to “Carlos Pascual, the top US energy diplomat,” who:
    • is “Special Envoy and Coordinator for International Energy Affairs at State.”
    • “was formerly US Ambassador to Ukraine (’00–03).”
    • is held “in high regard” by Hillary Clinton (the prior Secretary of State), former President Bill Clinton, and John Kerry,” the Secretary of State at the time the email was sent.
  • Engage “a key U.S. registered lobbyist” named “David Leiter,” who:
    • was “Secretary of State Kerry’s Chief of Staff when Kerry was in the U.S. Senate.”
    • was “a political appointee at the U.S. Department of Energy during the Clinton Administration.”
    • “is close to Secretary Kerry and his staff.”
    • “is also very close to people in other US government agencies (Commerce, Treasury, etc.) as well as Congress.”

This written record reveals how Washington really works. Politicians, bureaucrats, and lobbyists manipulate U.S. policy for the benefit of themselves, their families, their clients, and their political allies. And they get away with it because major media outlets like the Washington Post don’t report the actual facts to the public.

Just Facts has identified 11 other misleading statements in Kessler’s piece, but there’s no need to beat a dead horse. More than enough facts have proven that Kessler and the Post are untrustworthy brokers of information on this matter. The same applies to other so-called fact checkers, government officials, journalists, editors, and tech executives who have systematically misled the public about this staggering scandal.

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James D. Agresti is the president of Just Facts, a research institute dedicated to publishing facts about public policies and teaching research skills.
Background Photo “Washington Post Building” by Ron Cogswell. CC BY 2.0.

Editor’s note: This article has been updated to clarify the actions of separate prosecutors.




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