Co-Author of Controversial NYT Biden/Ukraine Article Hired as Ukrainian President’s Spox

Co-Author of Controversial NYT Biden/Ukraine Article Hired as Ukrainian President’s Spox

The reporter who last month co-authored a report for The New York Times hinting that Joe Biden, while still serving as Vice President, had intervened with Ukrainian officials to close down an investigation of an oil company that his son Hunter was involved with, announced on Monday that she has been hired as the spokesperson for the president of Ukraine.

Iuliia Mendel announced on Twitter that she had been chosen over thousands of applicants for the position:

The Times story was universally condemned as flimsy even before other outlets such as Bloomberg discredited it. Around the same time it was published, Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani was openly admitting he was pushing Ukraine, particularly new president Volodymyr Zelensky, to reopen the investigation. Giuliani went so far as to plan a trip to Ukraine, saying he planned on “meddling in the investigation” in order to help Trump.

Giuliani was forced to cancel the trip after an outcry, which he later blamed on “Soros people, Democrats, and people trying to set us up.”

The Times story raised the specter of its pushing of the allegations in Clinton Cash back in 2015. That book, which was turned into a documentary by Steve Bannon, had several false allegations in it that were not corrected until after its publication. The original allegations, which accused Hillary Clinton of selling rights to America’s uranium reserves to Russian mining interests, helped contribute to a specter of corruption that clung to the former Secretary of State throughout the 2016 presidential campaign. Donald Trump brought up the charges on the campaign trail, and commentators on Fox News still call for investigating Clinton over them.

The Ukraine story had the same whiff about it — unproven allegations that, despite being immediately discredited, were still repeated on television and in the media by the president and his allies.

Now the person who co-wrote the story has been chosen over 4,000 other applicants for a high-level job with the Ukrainian government. At the very least, something about this appointment smells.

We have reached out to both the Times and the Biden campaign for comment and will update the post when we receive a response.

UPDATE (8:30 P.M.)–According to a statement provided by the Times to The Daily Beast, Mendel applied for the job on May 3, after the Biden story was published on May 1. The statement says she wrote only one other story for the paper after that, on the dissolution of Ukraine’s parliament on May 20, and would not have received that assignment if editors had been aware that she was in line for the spokesperson job.

However, a search of the Times’ website reveals Mendel’s byline on another story, about sexual abuse in Ukraine’s military, on May 19. She also was listed as a contributing reporter on a May 16 story regarding the return of oligarch Ihor Kolomoisky from self-imposed exile in Israel and Switzerland. Kolomoisky reportedly has close ties to Ukraine’s new president, Volodymyr Zelensky, who is Mendel’s new boss.

The statement from the Times reiterated that it stands by the reporting in the Biden story.

Gary Legum

Gary Legum has written about politics and culture for Independent Journal Review, Salon, The Daily Beast, Wonkette, AlterNet and McSweeney's, among others. He currently lives in his native state of Virginia.