Rep. Ken Buck eyes CNN job amid Biden impeachment criticism - Breaking News

Rep. Ken Buck eyes CNN job amid Biden impeachment criticism

WASHINGTON — The White House’s go-to Republican critic of the impeachment inquiry into President Biden is considering leaving Congress for a new job — and has expressed interest in being an on-air commentator for CNN, The Post has learned.

Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.), a five-term fiscal hawk, has surprised fellow conservatives by repeatedly criticizing the probe launched last week into Biden’s alleged corruption, including with a Sept. 15 Washington Post op-ed that other Republicans said included glaring inaccuracies.

Buck said privately last month that he was interested in a job at CNN, a source told The Post, after he weighed other options over the past year — including joining a DC-based law firm or even as a Biden appointee to the Federal Trade Commission.

Buck, 64, confirmed to The Post he’s exploring his options and said it would be “great” to join CNN.

“I am interested in talking to folks at CNN and other news organizations — on the, I don’t want to call them left, but sort of center-left — and having an opportunity to do that full-time or do that as a contributor would be great also,” Buck said in a phone interview.

Rep. Ken Buck
Rep. Ken Buck said he is looking to join CNN after his decade in Congress.
Bloomberg via Getty Images

The congressman called back later in the day to say that he had also expressed interest in a position at right-leaning Fox News or Newsmax.

“I didn’t want to give you the impression that I’ve only talked to folks at CNN, on the left. I’ve also talked to others about this,” Buck said.

Buck represents a vast rural district that spans the entire eastern border of the Rocky Mountain State and said Tuesday that it was unclear if he will leave office “this Congress, next Congress or whatever — but [I have] just really explored the possibility of … putting together some different things before I leave.”

A source familiar with Buck’s considerations scoffed at the prospect of him working for either Fox News or Newsmax, arguing that Fox “doesn’t need” him and that the smaller network likely would pay poorly.

“His constituents elected him to do a job right now — not go find a TV contract, not not try to audition for his next job,” the source said. “People can debate whether or not he’s changed his tune [about politics], but I think a lot of people would say he probably has.”

Joe Biden
Buck has criticized the Republicans’ impeachment inquiry of Joe Biden.
AFP via Getty Images

In recent weeks, Buck has emerged as a leading critic of the impeachment inquiry focused on Biden’s alleged links to his son Hunter and brother James’ ventures in countries such as China and Ukraine during his vice presidency.

Ian Sams, the spokesman for the White House counsel’s office, has tweeted Buck’s remarks five times since Sunday.

One GOP congressional source told The Post it was “obvious” that Buck was exploring career options — after former Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) previously emerged as a top on-air critic of other Republicans before joining CNN in January.

Buck’s Washington Post op-ed particularly irked fellow Republicans.

In it, he wrote that there was “no evidence” that Ukrainian prosecutor-general Viktor Shokin “was engaged in an investigation of Burisma,” the natural gas company that paid Hunter Biden a $1 million salary, when he was fired.

Shokin was dismissed by a vote of Kyiv’s parliament on March 29, 2016 — less than two months after he seized the assets of Burisma owner Mykola Zlochevsky as part of a corruption case.

Biden later boasted of forcing Ukraine’s hand by using $1 billion in US loan guarantees as leverage to get Shokin out of office.

Recently published email correspondence indicated that National Security Council staffers were surprised in late January 2016 that Biden would be linking Shokin’s removal to US aid.

“I sat down with the [House impeachment inquiry] investigators after I wrote the op-ed,” Buck told The Post on Tuesday. “It was one of those things where I wrote the op-ed, submitted it to the Washington Post and sat down with the investigators and it was published after I met with the investigators.”

Buck said he’s still unconvinced that Shokin was ousted because of his investigation of Burisma. An unproven FBI informant tip said that Zlochevsky in 2016 claimed he was “coerced” to pay $10 million to Joe and Hunter Biden in exchange for Shokin’s dismissal.

Other Republicans also took issue with Buck writing that “[t]he GOP’s charge against Biden is that he personally benefited from his son’s deplorable business exploits” but that “[w]hat’s missing, despite years of investigation, is the smoking gun that connects Joe Biden to his ne’er-do-well son’s corruption.”

But his GOP collleagues contend that corruption may still exist without proof of funds flowing to Joe Biden if he as vice president influenced US policy to benefit his relatives.

The House Oversight Committee is in the process of issuing subpoenas for Hunter and James Biden’s bank records to determine if any foreign income flowered to their powerful relative.

The panel in May described nine Biden relatives who allegedly got foreign funds.

Viktor Shokin
Buck said he’s still unconvinced that Viktor Shokin was ousted because of his investigation of Burisma.
LightRocket via Getty Images

Buck is a member of the hardline conservative Freedom Caucus and said that he may still vote to impeach Biden depending on the course of the investigation.

“I’m a prosecutor, so I’ve been beat up in court when there’s missing evidence,” he said. “So I may be overly cautious in this case. But it’s very clear to me that something doesn’t smell right — that there’s smoke.

“I am not opposed to impeachment, I’m opposed to the impeachment inquiry because I don’t think it gives us any broader authority to investigate this,” Buck added.

“I think the three investigations — Judiciary, Oversight and Ways and Means — are uncovering a lot of very good information. And I think the other information could change my mind and convinced me that there should be an impeachment.”

Buck said that he’s interested in learning more about why Russian billionaire Yelena Baturina has been spared US sanctions leveled against Russia’s business elite after transferring $3.5 million in 2014 to a corporate entity controlled in part by Hunter Biden before dining at least once with Joe Biden in DC.

The Colorado rep, who has a particular interest in antitrust policy, told The Post he spoke with two senators this year about potentially being nominated by Biden to be one of the two Republicans on the five-member FTC, but opted against pursuing it further.

Buck, a grandfather of six, also said that doesn’t want to serve in Congress into his 80s — unlike some more prominent members.

“I’ve never thought of this job as a job as a career — as a job that I wanted to do for a few decades. … Do I want to stay here a long time? The answer is no, I don’t,” he said.

“I want to have an impact. I want to represent my constituents in my state and this country well, and then I want to leave it behind and move on to another challenge.”

Buck said he’s interested in the potential CNN role, in part, because, “I feel like members of Congress choose the silo that they want to speak in and then they compete each other to try to be more to the right or more to the left … I think it’s essential that we get out of our tent and try to move more people in, or convince more people that we are rational and have good arguments to support our positions.”

CNN spokespeople did not immediately respond to a request for comment.