Biden’s Burisma Dealings Undercut US ‘Anti-Corruption’ Effort in Ukraine, Classified Email Reveals
14:51 GMT 03.02.2022 (Updated: 14:54 GMT 03.02.2022)
© AP Photo / Andrew HarnikPresident-elect Joe Biden, right, embraces his son Hunter Biden, left, Saturday, Nov. 7, 2020, in Wilmington, Del.
© AP Photo / Andrew Harnik
The scandal surrounding the Biden family’s Ukraine connections began in 2014, when then-vice president Joe Biden’s son Hunter took on a well-paid no-show job for Ukrainian energy company Burisma, allegedly in exchange for access to his powerful father. Donald Trump’s attempt to investigate matter sparked an impeachment probe against him in 2019.
A State Department official expressed concerns to his colleagues privately during the final days of the Obama administration that Hunter Biden’s job with Burisma was undermining Washington’s anti-corruption initiatives in Ukraine, a classified email obtained by Just the News has revealed.
The two-page email, marked “confidential” by then-ambassador Marie Yovanovitch and sent out by former US Embassy official George Kent on 22 November 2016, was reportedly hidden away by the State Department. It was not publicized during the campaign to impeach Trump, and withheld amid multiple Freedom of Information Act requests for correspondence related to the Biden family’s business dealings in Ukraine before finally being released.
In the email, addressed to high-ranking State Department officials in Washington, Kent detailed the graft case against Mykola Zlochevsky, the Ukrainian oligarch and former minister of natural resources who founded Burisma Holdings, the company which paid Hunter Biden $1 million per year for a no-show job on the company’s board.
Ukrainian authorities first began an investigation into Burisma in 2012, with the company accused of money laundering, tax evasion and corruption, and Zlochevsky was accused of trying to bribe his way out of trouble.
“The real issue to my mind was that someone in Washington needed to engage VP Biden quietly and say that his son Hunter’s presence on the Burisma board undercut the anti-corruption message the VP and we were advancing in Ukraine, because Ukrainians heard one message from us and then saw another set of behaviour, with the family association with a known corrupt figure whose company was known for not playing by the rules in the oil/gas sector,” Kent wrote.
“I told Dan I would be happy to share all of that with Sally, were she to call me. Dan said that he understood Sally was doing due diligence on exactly this issue, to make the case to Hunter. I never heard from Sally,” Kent added, referring to senior Obama-era State Department officials Sally Painter and Dan Fried.
Kent went on to recall that Painter called him in the fall of 2016, and said that she “referred to Zlochevsky by his first name…making clear the relationship was more than a passing one.” Days later, Kent recalled, he learned that USAID had greenlit a new public-private sponsorship with Burisma related to “a context for journalistic integrity in the energy sector.”
A second email, also dated 22 November 2016 and sent to State Department official Jorgan K Andrews and CCed to Kent, urged caution from the Atlantic Council (a powerful Washington-based think tank) regarding Zlochevsky amid the oligarch’s reported efforts to rehabilitate his name.
“Zlochevsky is wanted in Ukraine for crimes related to corruption, but the case against him has been marred by even more corruption: Ukrainian officials controversially unfroze $23 million in a London bank account, and it disappears into the offshore system…Despite his ruined name in Ukraine, Zlochevsky is actively campaigning for public rehabilitation, particularly with us,” the email, written by an unnamed official, indicated.
“He has been sending letters to Ambassadors Yovanovitch and Pyatt for months asserting his innocence; we have declined to get involved. I should note that there were two American members of the Burisma board: Hunter Biden and Devon Archer. Archer was recently indicated in a federal fraud case,” the email noted.
Biden Family’s Burisma Saga
Hunter Biden was hired to serve on Burisma’s board in the spring of 2014, and stayed on with the company until April 2019.
In 2015, Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin stepped up the investigation against the company, with then-vice president Joe Biden traveling to Kiev in late 2015 to warn him that if Shokin was not fired immediately, Washington would freeze $1 billion in loan guarantees. Later, at a Council on Foreign Relations forum in 2018, Biden openly bragged that his personal intervention caused the Ukrainian prosecutor to be fired.
“I had gotten a commitment from [then-Ukrainian President Petro] Poroshenko…that they would take action against the state prosecutor. And they didn’t…I said I’m telling you you’re not getting a billion dollars. I said you’re not getting the billion and I’m gonna be leaving here and I think it was what six hours – I looked [at my watch] and said I’m leaving in six hours. If the prosecutor is not fired you’re not getting’ the money. Well son of a b*tch! He got fired and they put in place someone who was solid at the time,” Biden boasted. After Shokin’s dismissal, the investigation into Burisma was dropped.
In 2020, alleged audio recordings of Biden and former US Secretary of State John Kerry pressuring Poroshenko to fire Shokin leaked online.
The Biden Burisma saga became international news only in 2019, after a whistleblower made a complaint that Trump had phoned his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky to ask the latter to restart the Burisma probe. Democrats interpreted the phone call as a sign that Trump was trying to dig up dirt against Biden for the upcoming 2020 presidential election, and began an impeachment inquiry against the president. Trump was impeached on abuse of power and obstruction of Congress charges in late 2019, but was acquitted by the Senate in early 2020.
Burisma reemerged to haunt the Bidens late in the presidential campaign, after the New York Post reported that it obtained evidence from a laptop purportedly belonging to Hunter Biden featuring emails confirming that Burisma had hired the vice president’s son to get political access to his powerful dad. Reporting on the story was heavily censored by the mainstream news media and by social media giants Facebook and Twitter.
26 March 2021, 01:57 GMT