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DiStefano: Long Before Hunter’s Ukraine Gig, Joe Biden Used ‘Legal Graft’

DiStefano: Long Before Hunter’s Ukraine Gig, Joe Biden Used ‘Legal Graft’
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Investigating the nature of Joe Biden’s and Hunter Biden’s business dealings in Ukraine — particularly with respect to energy company Burisma — is a legitimate endeavor, determined Joseph N. DiStefano, Philadelphia Inquirer staff writer and Nation columnist, offering his remarks in a Tuesday interview on SiriusXM’s Breitbart News Tonight with hosts Rebecca Mansour and Joel Pollak.

DiStefano described a series of courtships from businesses targeting Joe Biden’s family members, drawing on his latest Nation column entitled, “Joe Biden’s Friends and Backers Come Out on Top—at the Expense of the Middle Class.”

Joe Biden has been a beneficiary of “legal graft” via the “Delaware Way,” DiStefano said — a term defined as “politicians doing favors for well-connected business owners in exchange for contributions after the fact.”

“We go where the facts lead, DiStefano said. “In the case of the Bidens, they’ve been leading for a very long time. If you go back to the early 1970s, ever since Joe Biden’s been elected to the Senate, there has been a pretty unremitting series of business transactions involving members of his family and companies that were interested for a large variety of reasons in getting access.”

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DiStefano recalled, “[Joe Biden] himself complained — you might call it gaslighting, but he complained — that his brother at the age of 23 and his business partners were granted business loans by banks in Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Delaware — loans that were not paid — to open a discotheque right up the road from Wilmington.”

DiStefano continued, “When it came time to pay those loans, the banks liened on Joe Biden, he complained to the Wilmington News Journal — that paper where I worked years ago — at that time, and ever since then it’s been just a series of his brothers and his sons doing business with folks who came to them because they were Bidens, because Joe Biden was initially on the Banking Committee and then a representative of the very powerful credit card banks that developed in Delaware, and eventually on the Judiciary Committee.”

“Of course, this is a very old American tradition,” said DiStefano. “You can go back to Ben Franklin, and how he was pleased to become Secretary of the Province of Pennsylvania, because it enabled him to take over the provincial printing business. His son was ultimately governor of New Jersey, and there’s an awful lot of that in American history.

Reviewing Joe Biden’s political history reveals a pattern of businesses attempting to procure political influence via financial relationships with Biden’s brothers and sons, explained DiStefano.

“There is also a lot of hypocrisy,” stated DiStefano, “People who claim that they are for the people — that they are for the middle class — which has been Joe Biden’s mantra, and yet there is deal after deal in which companies are attempting to enrich themselves and members of the Biden family, and it has often been a way to open the door with the senator, [and] later vice president …  by doing something to support his brothers.”

DiStefano remarked, “Politics is very, very local, and the Bidens live in a very nice section of Delaware. The richest section of Delaware — eventually — in Greenville. They went to some of the best schools, first in the state, and then in the country.”

DiStefano went on, “Politics is very local here [in Delaware]. You can keep getting elected while being a person of modest means if you make the networks, if you make the connections, if you do the work, if you are respected.”

“There are many people in Delaware who respect Joe Biden for all those things, but it wasn’t enough, because from the very beginning, [Joe Biden was] building networks outside the state,”  added DiStefano. “There are people who credit or blame [Joe Biden] with corrupting the [political] process [in Delaware] to the extent that a lot of out-of-state money came in and made him senator, and others senator and governor after him. It really helped cement to the dominance of the Delaware Democratic Party.”

“Delaware is one of those states, like Vermont, that consistently elects Democrats in recent years. Joe Biden and the money machine he put together is a large part of that,” DiStefano said. “It is a fact that he had those networks and he raised that money, and there were a lot of trade-offs that happened as a result.”

DiStefano continued, “One of the most obvious [trade-offs] was support that [Joe Biden] at first uniquely, and then very importantly gave to the credit card banks in Delaware, in the fights that happened in Congress all through the 1970s, 80s, and 90s over just how much power should these institutions have when a person can’t pay their bills [and] what is protected and what it exposed to the mercies of the creditors.”

“Joe Biden was very consistently on the side of the credit card banks in limiting the assets that one could protect from bankruptcy,” noted DiStefano.

Joe Biden was dubbed, “the Senator from MBNA” in 1998 by the American Spectator, recalled DiStefano.

Mansour and Pollak invited DiStefano’s explanation of how Delaware came to be the home state of many national credit card companies.

“This came about when the Democrats controlled Washington back in late 1970s, after they had gotten Nixon out of the way and believed that they would be the majority party indefinitely — before Reagan put an end to that — there was a period in which there was very high inflation in this country and Democrats did not know what to do,” recalled DiStefano.

DiStefano went on, “The Supreme Court and the Congress and President [Jimmy Carter] basically agreed to allow banks to export interest rates [across state lines]. For many years, states could limit interest rates [and] how much you could charge on a loan. The credit card industry was one of the first really national lending business, and there was an agreement in Congress — after a particular Supreme Court decision involving a bank in Omaha — that it would now be possible for bank in a state with really liberalized lending laws to export those lending laws to another state.”

“Delaware was one of the very first states to take advantage of that,” added DiStefano. “Now, by that point, [Joe Biden] was in the U.S. Senate. He was not part of the initial bipartisan group in Delaware who rushed to make this happen. He had been on the Senate Banking Committee during the debates and was on the conference committee that basically passed the bill that made all this possible. What he did after that was to be very accommodating from Washington of the banks that immediately flocked to Delaware.”

DiStefano explained, “Delaware got this early. Delaware understood that if they got rid of their usury law, if they got rid of their consumer protections, if they reduced bank taxes to the point where they were actually regressive — the more money you make as a Delaware bank, the lower your tax rate is — then the result was that … the largest credit card companies reincorporated their businesses in Delaware and began to lend from there.”

Joe Biden assisted Republicans in blocking left-wing Democrats’ efforts to increase state controls over the credit card industry, noted DiStefano.

“That is what a lot of the liberals hold against Joe Biden,” DiStefano said of the former vice president’s opposition to increasing government regulations over credit card companies’ operations.

“[Joe Biden] really defended the interest of a very powerful group in his state, but you ought to consider that that was a lot of jobs,” added DiStefano. “That was literally tens of thousands of jobs at a time when the Dupont company was cutting back, the auto plants were closing down, the oil refinery along the river was closing, and here were the banks, that’s what they had, and that’s who gave Joe Biden money, and that is who his constituents, you know, were calling in [about] and saying, ‘We need these jobs,’ and he was defending those jobs in Congress.”

Joe Biden moved politically leftward after joining Barack Obama’s presidential campaign as a vice presidential nominee, said DiStefano, “[Joe Biden] was now on a national platform and he needed to run to the left, and that’s where he moved.

“Joe Biden backed Obama’s [and the] Democrats’ attempt to socialize the [private lending industry], and make it so that anybody who wants a loan for college can get one. no matter that it’s a bad college program that doesn’t help people get jobs, no matter that it’s a bad borrower who’s not going to pay their loan,” DiStefano explained. “That’s why student lending is so expensive in this country.”

Bohai Harvest RST (BHR), a private equity firm founded by Hunter Biden, procured  $1.5 billion in financing from the state-run Bank of China days after then-Vice President Joe Biden traveled to China as part of an official extended trip to Asia.

DiStefano recalled BHR’s involved in purchasing “politically sensitive” assets and companies, including dual-use technology with military applications developed by automotive parts manufacturer Henniges Automotive.

“They ended up buying the biggest copper and cobalt mine in Africa,” said DiStefano of BHR’s global acquisition. “They bought a company in Detroit that did a lot of controls for vehicles, including military vehicles. They bought into a company in China hat ended up designing a lot of technology used in the imprisonment of the Uighur population.”

DiStefano added, “There are examples of companies that were close to the Bidens that did not make company, and one of those is  Hill International, a company in Philadelphia run by — long ago — a former felon that hired one of the Biden brothers as a vice president of a group that was supposed to build housing in Iraq.”

DiStefano went on, “That housing never got built, because the Obama administration policies in Iraq turned to, really, abandoning a part of the country for a period of time, allowing ISIS to move in, and the plan to build all this housing was canceled. That same company had a deal to build community colleges across Libya, and that plan got blown up when the [Obama] administration, against the advice of many of our allies, decided to go in and blow up the Qaddafi government, leading to another period of anarchy and more influence by ISIS. That company lost money in both of those cases, and they had very actively courted the Biden family.”

Mansour invited DiStefano’s comments on Biden’s conflicts of interest given his former role as vice president and his son’s foreign businesses dealings.

“What would you do?” asked DiStefano. “I have six children, and a bunch of them have worked and had internships and then jobs in corporate America, and I always tell them the same thing. I say, ‘Don’t tell me anything that’s going on at the company you’re working at. As much as I’d love to know, and as a business reporter, I’m probably very interested, but don’t tell me anything that hasn’t been published by your investor relations department or hasn’t been [publicly disclosed] by the company, because you’re going to be working a lot longer than I have, and I don’t want to put you in that position where you have a conflict of interest,’ and they understand that.”

DiStefano added, “When my wife was a bank officer and I was a labor organizer — way, way, way back, over 30 years ago, before I was a reporter — she had some sensitive information on companies I was very interested in, and she would not tell me. That’s what honorable people do. They separate it. They don’t put themselves and their family members in these positions where there [are] conflicts of interest.”

“What we don’t hear is denouncement [from Joe Biden],” observed DiStefano. “We hear the general abstract statement, ‘I will never put anybody in that position,’ but then you see the fact of a deal in Ukraine right as the U.S. is backing Ukraine, and no apparent attempt by the then-vice president to say, ‘Well, don’t do that. You shouldn’t do that. I wish he wouldn’t do that.’ It’s just, ‘It’s all okay. It’s my son, and what he does, I’m sure, is right,’ and I just think that’s an extra step that many of us try very hard to avoid in our personal and business lives, and why should he not be setting an example?”

Mansour asked DiStefano about the President Donald Trump’s inquiries into corruption in Ukraine, including possible corruption on the part of Joe and Hunter Biden’s involvement with Burisma.

DiStefano determined, “Obviously the question should be asked, ‘What were the Bidens’ relations in the Ukraine? What were they doing? What were they up to? Who was benefiting from that? Did it affect U.S. policy?’”

“What is [Hunter Biden] doing going on the board of an oil company that can obviously benefit if the U.S. backs Ukraine,” asked DiStefano.

Breitbart News Tonight broadcasts live on SiriusXM Patriot channel 125 weeknights from 9:00 p.m. to midnight Eastern or 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Pacific.

Follow Robert Kraychik on Twitter @rkraychik.

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