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- The co-author of a bombshell New York Times story about former Vice President Joe Biden’s ties to Ukraine is now the Ukrainian president’s spokesperson.
- The story was published on May 1, and the writer, Iuliia Mendel, applied to be Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s spokesperson on May 3.
- But she did not inform The Times of the conflict of interest until last week, a spokesperson for the paper told INSIDER in a statement.
- "Had she informed editors of her job application, they would not have given her that assignment, and we would have stopped working with her immediately given this serious conflict of interest," the statement continued. However, "editors are confident that despite the conflict that should have been disclosed, her reporting — including her work on our recent Hunter Biden story — was fair and accurate."
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The New York Times is standing by a bombshell story about former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter’s ties to Ukraine after one of the authors recently became the Ukrainian president’s spokesperson.
The story, published May 1, reported that Trump’s allies were pushing for an investigation into whether the firing of Ukraine’s top prosecutor, Viktor Shokin, was politically motivated. Biden had pushed for Shokin to be removed while he was investigating a gas company whose board Hunter Biden served on. The story was written by Times reporter Kenneth Vogel and freelance contributor Iuliia Mendel.On May 3, Mendel entered a competition to be Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky’s official representative. The competition began on April 30, and Mendel announced Monday that she had accepted the position.
She did not inform The Times of her application — or any conflicts of interest that arose as a result — until last week, a spokesperson for the paper told INSIDER in a statement.
"Ms. Mendel wrote one story for The Times in May while she was a candidate for the government position, about the dissolution of Parliament," the statement said. "Had she informed editors of her job application, they would not have given her that assignment, and we would have stopped working with her immediately given this serious conflict of interest. All reporters, including freelance reporters, must abide by our ethical journalism guidelines."
However, "editors are confident that despite the conflict that should have been disclosed, her reporting — including her work on our recent Hunter Biden story — was fair an accurate," the statement concluded.
Vogel’s and Mendel’s story focused on President Donald Trump and his allies’ efforts to stir controversy surrounding Biden’s and his son’s foreign ties.
When Biden was vice president in 2016, he pushed hard for the former Ukrainian prosecutor general, Viktor Shokin, to be fired for corruption.
At the time, Shokin was leading an investigation into Burisma Group, a Ukrainian gas company owned by an oligarch. Hunter sat on the board of Burisma, and his work for the company prompted concerns among State Department officials that it could raise questions about Biden’s diplomatic work in Ukraine.
The former vice president has long said he never discussed the matter with his son and that he only found out about Hunter’s involvement with Burisma from media reports.
Vogel and Mendel reported in May that Trump’s allies, and in particular his lead defense lawyer Rudy Giuliani, were fanning the controversy in the hopes of getting dirt on Biden, the Democratic frontrunner, ahead of the 2020 election.
The Times report said Giuliani had discussed the Burisma investigation and its tie to the Bidens with Shokin as well as Yuriy Lutsenko, Ukraine’s current prosecutor general. He reportedly met with Lutsenko several times in New York this year, and Lutsenko told associates later that Giuliani called Trump during one of their meetings to "excitedly" brief the president on their findings.
Giuliani was also planning to travel to Ukraine to directly press Zelensky — who is now Mendel’s new boss — to move forward with two investigations he believed would be politically beneficial to Trump. The first is an inquiry into the Bidens and Burisma, and the second is an investigation of the origins of the former special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe of Russian interference in the 2016 election.
Giuliani eventually canceled his trip after being accused of seeking a foreign government’s help in an upcoming US election, which is prohibited by US law.
Lutsenko told Bloomberg News last month that he had no evidence of wrongdoing against Biden or his son over Hunter’s involvement with Burisma.
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