NYT Covers Up the Still-Ongoing Trump-Russian Effort to Frame Joe Biden

The reason I have so little patience for NYT’s decision to dedicate the resources of three senior reporters to warn about the dangers of a second Trump term is not that I disagree about the second term. They’re right that it would be far worse.

It’s that the same reporters continue to downplay Trump’s past corruption — some of which Maggie Haberman specifically enabled — and outright ignore the ongoing effects of it.

Imagine how much healthier American democracy would be if the NYT dedicated just half of the time and space that went into the eight, often repetitive stories on this topic to instead lay out how the ongoing effort to impeach Biden is a continuation of Trump’s efforts, made with the assistance of men now deemed to be Russian spies by both the US and Ukraine, to frame Joe Biden?

  1. December 4: Why a Second Trump Presidency May Be More Radical Than His First
  2. November 15/December 2: How Trump and His Allies Plan to Wield Power in 2025
  3. November 11: Sweeping Raids, Giant Camps and Mass Deportations: Inside Trump’s 2025 Immigration Plans
  4. November 1: Some of the Lawyers Who May Fill a Second Trump Administration
  5. October 31: If Trump Wins, His Allies Want Lawyers Who Will Bless a More Radical Agenda
  6. July 17: Trump and Allies Forge Plans to Increase Presidential Power in 2025
  7. June 21: Few of Trump’s G.O.P. Rivals Defend Justice Dept. Independence
  8. June 15: The Radical Strategy Behind Trump’s Promise to ‘Go After’ Biden

NYT appears not to have assigned a single reporter to chase down the following allegations that have come out of the GOP impeachment effort:

  • Bill Barr’s DOJ shut down a corruption investigation into Mykola Zlochevsky — which had been opened in January 2016, while Biden was VP and Hunter was on the board of Burisma — in December 2019, right in the middle of an impeachment defense claiming to prioritize the investigation of Burisma’s corruption.
  • Days later, Barr set up a rickety effort to ingest the dirt Rudy Giuliani had obtained, including from known Russian agent Andrii Derkach and possibly from Burisma itself, without being forced to prosecute Rudy for soliciting dirt from known Russian agents. One of several details we’ve learned since NYT’s superb past reporting on this effort (besides that Scott Brady’s testimony completely conflicts with that past NYT report), is that Brady mined information from the newly closed Zlochevsky investigation to obtain an FD-1023 recording Zlochevksy making new claims about Joe Biden around the same time in 2019 as Barr shut down the investigation into Zlochevsky, claims that were utterly inconsistent with what he had said months earlier.
  • Hunter Biden’s lawyer claims, backed by newly disclosed communications, that Tony Bobulinski falsely told the FBI on October 23, 2020 that he had personally attended a February 2017 meeting at which he saw CEFC’s Chair hand Hunter Biden an enormous diamond. That meeting with the FBI took place one day after attending the October 22, 2020 debate with Donald Trump. Weeks later, according to Cassidy Hutchinson, Bobulinski and Mark Meadows had a covert meeting at a campaign stop; she claims she saw Trump’s chief of staff hand Bobulinski, “what appeared to be a folded sheet of paper or a small envelope.”
  • Separately, Hunter Biden partner Rob Walker described the concerns he and Hunter had about Bobulinski’s business ties to Russians, possibly including Viktor Vekselberg.
  • In addition to the informant report on Zlochevsky’s changed claims about Biden, there were three other dodgy informant reports shared with the Hunter Biden team: from two Ukrainians that seem tied to the Rudy effort, from Gal Luft at meetings where — he has since been accused — he lied about his ties to CEFC, and from Bannon associate Peter Schweizer (the latter of which this important NYT story on Tim Thibault did address).
  • Throughout this period, the IRS supervisor on the investigation documented repeated examples of improper influence on the investigation. In a recent subpoena request, Hunter’s attorney noted that Trump’s improper effort to influence the investigation continues to this day.

In short, basic reporting on Republican efforts to impeach Biden show that it, along with key parts (though not necessarily all) of the investigation into Hunter Biden, are simply a continuation of an effort Trump started in 2018 to frame Joe Biden. That is an effort that involved people that both the US and Ukraine have labeled as Russian spies.

Aside from some key articles (linked above), NYT has covered none of this.

Instead, NYT claims the exact opposite. It claims that the effort to gin up a criminal investigation into Joe Biden didn’t succeed.

And neither effort for which he was impeached succeeded. Mr. Trump tried to coerce Ukraine into opening a criminal investigation into Mr. Biden by withholding military aid, but it did not cooperate.

It’s right there, the full-time pursuit of three different House committees, ongoing, with an FD-1023 about Zlochevsky’s changed claims about Biden and Bobulinksi’s FBI report that seems to have close ties to Trump (in which Bobulinski was represented by a known Maggie Haberman source).

NYT tells you the first term wasn’t that bad, because Trump’s efforts failed. Yet what failed was NYT’s reporting on ongoing events.

NYT tells this fairy tale even as they continue to whitewash Bill Barr’s efforts. In a recent 4,000-word story, in which they claimed that the commutation of Jonathan Braun’s sentence “stood out” more than the pre-trial pardon of Steve Bannon issued the same day, NYT gives Barr two paragraphs to claim he tried to clean up pardons.

William P. Barr, a Trump attorney general who had left by the time of the Braun commutation, said when he took over the Justice Department he discovered that “there were pardons being given without any vetting by the department.”

Mr. Barr added that he told Trump aides they should at least send over names of those being considered so the department could thoroughly examine their records. While the White House Counsel’s Office tried to do so, the effort fell apart under the crush of pardon requests that poured in during the final weeks before Mr. Trump left office, according to people with direct knowledge of the process.

It is true that of the eight pardons given before he arrived, there were some doozies, including Joe Arpaio, Dinesh D’Souza, Scooter Libby, and the ranchers whose arson cases sparked the Malheur occupation.

But Barr was utterly complicit in the most abusive pardons Trump gave. Less than two months after he was confirmed based off repeated assurances that giving a pardon in exchange for false testimony was obstruction, Bill Barr wrote a memo declining to prosecute a crime in process, the effort to use pardons to ensure that Paul Manafort, Roger Stone, Mike Flynn, and others continued to lie to cover up Trump’s ties to Russia in the 2016 campaign. The Barr memo did not once mention pardons, even though that was a key thrust of the second volume of the Mueller Report (something Charlie Savage has also noted).

Of course, NYT joins Barr in that complicity. This story finally mentions one of those pardons in its discussion of Trump’s abuse.

His lawyers floated a pardon at his campaign chairman, whom Mr. Trump praised for not “flipping” as prosecutors tried unsuccessfully to get him to cooperate as a witness in the Russia inquiry; Mr. Trump later did pardon him.

But it does not mention that Manafort specifically lied about why he briefed Konstantin Kilimnik campaign information, an act that the Intelligence Community later stated as fact resulted in the sharing of campaign information with Russian intelligence. This is a topic about which NYT has a still uncorrected story, hiding the tie to Oleg Deripaska.

It’s not that Trump pardoned Manafort for “not flipping.” It’s that he pardoned Manafort after he lied about why the campaign manager shared information that Russian spies could use in their attack on US democracy.

And the very link NYT relies on here mentions the Stone pardon, a commutation and then pardon that halted a still ongoing CFAA conspiracy investigation between Trump’s rat-fucker and the Russians (another detail NYT has never reported).

Yes, I absolutely agree. A second Trump term would be worse.

But repeating that, over and over, even while misinforming readers about the ongoing five year effort to frame Joe Biden is not the best way to prevent a second term.

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65 replies
  1. John Paul Jones says:

    Would the New Republic be willing to give you space to lay all this out in a long article? While I and many others follow this blog religiously (ha!), TNR may have a wider reach, and give the story more traction in the mainstream. (And forgive me in advance if this question builds in assumptions that might be questionable, re: the reach and frequency of this amazing blog and the work you do.)

  2. BobBobCon says:

    I think there’s a good chance top editor Carolyn Ryan is doing what she can to prevent any reexamination of the numerous faults of her tenure. The Times has always been reluctant to admit past faults, but Ryan has been particularly agressive in shutting down criticism.

    Ken Vogel, who is in the inner circle Ryan, was in the thick of Giuliani’s scheming in 2019 and was still promising dirt as the impeachment inquiry threw a wrench in the scheme.

    Ryan personally negotiated access to Peter Schweitzer’s “research” for his Clinton Cash hack job and greenlit it for the front page as a news story.

    Haberman considers herself a protege of Ryan, and her presence on these stories seems almost as if she’s there as a minder to tip off Ryan and possibly even Trump’s camp into where more skeptical reporters are digging.

    • Datnotdat says:

      Group,
      Besides being unable to critically self reflect, the NYT is also allergic to discussing any news they didn’t break themselves. As has been mentioned in comments here, look at their recent stories of ex-Rep. Santos, which reference triumphantly their first mentions of his crimes without acknowledging that the earliest reporting was done by Santos’ local hometown newspaper. In other words, don’t hold your breath for the NYT articles relaying Dr. Wheeler’s work.
      datnotdat

      • BobBobCon says:

        And to be clear, Santos represented NYC in part. The New York Times was literally one of his hometown papers.

        Except as anyone from the outer boroughs (and much of Manhattan, for that matter) can tell you, they care more about covering Martha’s Vinyard than local coverage.

        • Datnotdat says:

          The North Shore Leader, a paper on Long Island’s north shore (duh!) reported on Santos’ fabulism a few months before the NYT’s first report. They have a circulation of about 20,000.

          The NYT styles itself “the” paper of the country if not the world. It has been quite successful in that presentation. It’s also quick to assure you it remains a New York hometown paper too, though that claim seems to be most supported by remnants of parochialism. Its coverage of state governance was not strong, but is improving. Its sports section has only recently, with the takeover of the Athletic, escaped its previously crabbed New York centricity.

          [Welcome back to emptywheel. Please use the same username and email address each time you comment so that community members get to know you. You attempted to publish this comment under username “Datnotdat dat” which may have been a typo. I’ve corrected it this once; please check your browser/app cache to avoid repeating this error. /~Rayne]

          • ernesto1581 says:

            The Glen Cove (local Long island) paper also ran stories looking into Santos during his first, unsuccessful run at NY 3. This should have been Newsday’s to dig into but they didn’t pick up the story until after NYT’s belated post-election coverage of Admiral Santos-Munchausen.
            (That seat had been Tom Suozzi’s, a centrist Dem who gave it up to make a nasty misogynistic run at Kathy Hochul in the NYS gubernatorial primary. And I see where he is one of a multitude gaming for it again in a special election.)

  3. Sussex Trafalgar says:

    For financial reasons, the NY Times covets maintaining its relationships with Trump and his Republican MAGA billionaire supporters, including Woody Johnson, owner of the NY Jets.

    Maggie Haberman knows who butters her bread, so she is a key player in maintaining these relationships for the Times.

    Consequently, the Times cannot risk losing these relationships by focusing on past facts and the truth involving the Russia/Trump investigation that will alienate Trump and the Woody Johnsons who support Trump and MAGA financially then and now.

  4. Stacy (Male) says:

    This superb item illustrates the fact that, only by scrutinizing the previous regime at a molecular level,does one gain a true appreciation of the massive scope of its perfidy. Put another way, every detail–however small–that is revealed makes it worse for Trump. Sadly, the converse is also true: every effort to paint with too broad a brush lets him off the hook to some extent. Nice work.

  5. Fancy Chicken says:

    This!

    Dr. Wheeler you have concentrated in a powerful post the particulars of Trump and his enablers’ long term effort to smear Biden. It is being missed by not just the NYT but also what seems to be nearly every other journalist (unless I am very blind and missing something).

    Your frustration and fury is palpable with every sentence. Bravo for combining passion with concision and clarity. Thank you!

    • Ginevra diBenci says:

      You said it, Fancy Chicken. THIS.

      I wouldn’t trust TNR with it. In fact, I can’t think of an outlet I *would* trust with it. The best thing we can do is bring readers here. This is not just a brilliant takedown of the Times and its manifest shortcomings; it is also a succinct, pointed and brilliant summary of Trump’s war on Biden, a history of what is, in essence, the obverse of Durham’s fantasy “Clinton Plot.”

      Durham manufactured a threat out of his own lies and abortive oppo research, while EW shows the most powerful person on earth abusing that power in a thus-far-futile attempt to neuter (not research) *his* opponent.

      • Harry Eagar says:

        The work here is oustanding but far too complicated for the mass audience.

        The piece a couple days ago about the 2018 email in the HBiden laptop was the first I gave seen that could be packaged for a newspaper readership. (I was a newspaper reporter and editor for 45 years, so I’ve had some feedback along those lines.)

        it isn’t Dr Wheeler’s fault but trying to keep up with just the characters, still less what each did obscurely, is like reading a Russian novel.

        • Rayne says:

          It *IS* a Russian novel, one replete with spies and cut-outs and useful idiots as well as oligarchs and organized crime. What have you missed for the last +6 years about Russian interference in US elections?

          Marcy is laying out all the minutiae, which should make it incredibly easy for mainstream journalists to validate the facts AND then present a streamlined summarized perspective of this ongoing influence operation. She’s also making the case that mainstream journalistic outlets should invest more in this kind of investigative reporting because their half-assed cut-and-paste approach to news is nearly as bad as co-opted stenographic reporting. The stakes are this democracy’s survival.

          That you’re still struggling with how easy she’s made these cases says something about your caliber of journalism and editing.

          That so many journalists have written and published books about some facet of this massive Russian novel over the last +6 years also says something about the entire journalistic profession and the news industry. Why is it easier to write a book instead of ensuring the American public is informed in their daily news?

          • Harry Eagar says:

            If you want better news, pay the bearers instead of shooting them. There have been plenty of comments here about finding some way to evade a pay wall.

            • Rayne says:

              I’m not going to argue that, but paywalls are a pissy model. News industry has had more than a decade to deal with a shitacular democracy-destroying business model and all it can do is double down on it instead of innovating.

              Or lie there inert waiting for a vulture capital firm to swoop in, scrape off all the cash, downsize to a bare minimum, and then sell to an even more cruel corporate master. LAT and Chicago Sun Times were rare exceptions.

              I say this having coughed up this month:

              $17.99 POS NYT
              $5.99 Washington Post
              $8.20 Los Angeles Times
              $0.99 Detroit Free Press
              $2.50 WIRED
              $2.50 Vanity Fair

              On top of these internet services so I can access cable news programming:
              YouTube TV $72.99
              Spectrum ISP $84.00

              I’m sure I’ve missed other subscriptions which renew earlier in the year — oh, and a donation of $60 each to PBS and NPR for their news.

              I’m on fixed income like many of the folks in this community. I’m spending a sizeable amount of it on getting news. If I could pay per piece I consumed I’d probably pay less overall but the money would be better aimed at the sources generating reported news.

              Goddamn it. Now I’m fucking pissed. I hope my spouse never leans on me about how much I’m spending on news media because it’s close to what he’s paying for golf each month. Golf wouldn’t piss me off this much.

              • Harry Eagar says:

                Youbare me hero.

                Seriously.

                Mt proposal — meant to provide a evenuestream to smaller papers like the one I worked for –was to offer a global subscription to a basket of papers. So many stories a month.

                If the payouts can be managed by ASCAP, they could be managed for newspapers (or new, online outlets).

                • Rayne says:

                  Yeah. Okay. So why aren’t you beating on doors and rattling cages about this “global subscription to a basket of papers”?

                  I don’t think ASCAP is the answer for payouts, either, as it has baggage. Better to create a wholly new nonprofit entity solely dedicated to development, maintenance, and distribution of the necessary apps and receipt/distribution of income to participating outlets. Could be a co-op with open source app.

            • Ginevra diBenci says:

              Harry Eagar, I’m paying for so many subscriptions I can’t remember which one is on which credit card; I just pay them off every month.

              I think you forget that people actually read Russian novels. Millions of people, year after year. You seem to be arguing that the news audience requires dumbed-down coverage; my own teaching/writing/editing career (and especially my media research) suggests otherwise.

              • Harry Eagar says:

                A small proportion of people read Russian novels.

                Early in my news career an old-timer threw a story back at me and said, “Remember, you’re writing for the 16-year-old who isn’t doing too well in school.”

                Remember how long it took the smart people to figure out that Woodward and Bernstein were onto something?

                • Rayne says:

                  You mean a small percentage of Americans read Russian novels.

                  And 16-year-old Americans in high school are not the market for Russian novels.

                  It took Bernstein and Woodward a while to figure out they were onto something, too.

                  Jeebus, Harry. *face palm*

                • Ginevra diBenci says:

                  Harry, you also overlook the fact that EW’s post was written for a specific audience: her own, here.

                  I’m not the only professional writer in this space who can tell you this; you should know it yourself. EW is more than capable of revising it with a different audience in mind. We’ve all done that. It’s part of the job.

  6. freebird says:

    If we did not promise to assist Ukraine when the USSR broke up and Ukraine gave up their nukes we would not have been involved in trying to stop Ukraine from being absorbed back into a reconstituted communist country. VP Biden was tasked to assist in cleaning up the rampant corruption in Ukraine in exchange for financial assistance.

    From an article I read in the NYT, Biden thought that he could save a country from the orbit of Putin. Putin has been taking chunks of Ukraine for years and some of their leaders took graft. The reason why Zlochevsky was investigated is because he granted oil and gas leases to companies he owned while a government minister.

    Some Obama State Department officials were concerned about Hunter Biden rooting around in Ukraine because they thought that he could muck up their diplomatic efforts.

    The bemusing thing here is that Biden was on the ropes in the 2020 primary campaign. Even after impeachment, Trump stood a good chance of getting re-elected until he said that we could all drink bleach to cure COVID.

  7. Upisdown says:

    It is not much better at the Washington Post. Phillip Bump provides almost all of that paper’s work to cut through the GOP’s attack on the Biden family. There is no shortage of Trump second term stories at the WaPo, either.

    I have all but given up on Glenn Kessler.

    • RockyGirl says:

      The editorial cartoon choices made by the Post are even worse. Biden-bashing all the way. Right now the only things that are keeping me as a subscriber are the comics and Dear Abbey

        • P'villain says:

          Petri is a slugger. She swings and misses a lot, but when she hits them, they go.

          [Moderator’s note: We’re having a problem with your username again. You’re swapping between P’villain and P’villain which are not the same. You have 173 comments using the first and 9 using the second. PLEASE fix this because your comments have to be manually moderated each time you use the latter. /~Rayne]

          • Rayne says:

            This is what the two username variants look like to the system though they may appear identical on the site:

            The apostrophe/single quote mark are not the same.

    • ernesto1581 says:

      WaPo ran Kagan’s hysterical click-bait about a second Trump presidency for four days, gathering nearly 9K comments, if the tally machine is to be believed.

      The thing is, there should have been ample institutional memory at the NYT on Trump, going back to the early ’80’s at least. In 2015, it was like they had just discovered he was a thing — the bloody escalator (which, in certain parts of NY and LI, is pronounced “es-cyoo-lat-tor.”)

  8. OldTulsaDude says:

    Each day begins with a fair share
    of hope that soon turns into despair when I open the Times only to find he’s not in the obits nor in prison but leading the polls and the polecats call that the news.

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