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Emails obtained by FBI detail how Hunter Biden landed Ukrainian gas gig in 2014

Memos show concerted strategy to leverage VP Joe Biden's trip to Kiev to score Burisma Holdings deal.

Updated: December 23, 2020 - 7:49am

In the weeks before he landed a deal with a Ukrainian gas company in 2014, Hunter Biden strategized with his business partner on how to leverage an upcoming official trip to Kiev by his father, then-Vice President Joe Biden, to clinch the lucrative arrangement, according to emails obtained a year ago by the FBI.

The communications reviewed by Just the News show that the younger Biden referred to his father as "my guy" and took credit for "adding value" because the vice president made comments to Ukrainian leaders about natural gas production that might benefit his new client. 

The memos also show how Hunter Biden pressed to get Burisma Holdings to sign some sort of consulting deal with him and his business partner Devon Archer before the U.S. vice president visited Ukraine on April 21-22, 2014.

"The contract should begin now — not after the upcoming visit of my guy," Hunter Biden wrote Archer in a detailed strategy email on April 13, 2014, a week before his father's high-profile visit.

The memo shows Hunter Biden already knew he was going to be appointed to Burisma's board along with Archer in mid-April 2014 — a month before it was announced — and that he also wanted Burisma to pay an additional consulting fee to him or his law firm Boies Schiller Flexner, referred to in the emails as "BSF."

The deal with Burisma "should include a retainer in the range of 25k p/m w/ additional fees where appropriate for more in depth work to go to BSF for our protection," Hunter Biden wrote. "Complete separate from our respective deals re board participation."

Records previously obtained by Just the News show Burisma paid Boies Schiller Flexner a $250,000 retainer on July 5, 2014 as well as more than $3 million between 2014 and 2016 to a firm connected to Archer and Hunter Biden called Rosemont Seneca Bohais.

The emails were provided to the FBI last December as part of a laptop hard drive believed to belong to Hunter Biden that had been left at a repair shop in Delaware. The shop owner, John Paul Mac Isaac, turned over a copy of the hard drive to agents under a federal grand jury subpoena.

Mac Isaac's lawyer, Brian Della Rocca, confirmed to Just the News on Tuesday that the emails detailing Hunter Biden's efforts to land the Burisma deal in 2014 were on the hard drive turned over to the FBI.

Hunter Biden confirmed Dec. 9 that he is under criminal investigation by the U.S. attorney's office in Delaware for his "tax affairs," but he and his father have insisted he did nothing wrong.

Joe Biden on Tuesday doubled down on his earlier claims that information on the laptop was "Russian disinformation" designed to impugn his family. But the nation's top spy, Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe, has declared there is no evidence the laptop was part of a Russian disinformation campaign. The FBI has not disputed that assertion and said it had nothing to add to Ratcliffe's assessment.

A senior law enforcement official told Just the News that the FBI is treating the laptop as evidence and in some cases has corroborated information on it from other sources, including cooperating witnesses and other data repositories.

George Mesires, one of Hunter Biden's attorneys, did not respond to an email seeking comment on Tuesday.

If corroborated by the FBI, the emails would provide the most direct evidence to date of how Hunter Biden traded on his father's name to score business with a Ukrainian company run by an oligarch who was under criminal investigation at the time. The emails provide no indication that Joe Biden was aware of what his son was doing in Ukraine.

In the April 13, 2014 email to Archer, Hunter Biden said that he and his partner should portray Joe Biden's visit to Ukraine as part of their consulting deliverables and to "ask for a long term agreement and across the board participation" in Burisma's business. Joe Biden's trip to Ukraine had been announced just a day earlier.

"The announcement of my guys upcoming travels should be characterized as part of our advice and thinking – but what he will say and do is out of our hands," the email stated. "In other words, it could be a really good thing or it could end up creating too great an expectation. We need to temper expectations regarding that visit."

Two days after the email, Archer checked into the Obama White House to meet with Vice President Biden, Secret Service entry logs show.

After Joe Biden made the first day of his high-profile visit to Ukraine on April 22, 2014 as the Obama administration's new point person for the region, Hunter Biden reported in a new email that his father had made comments urging Ukraine to expand its natural gas business while visiting Kiev. The son recommended he and his partner take credit with Burisma for getting the comments in the vice president's speech to Ukrainian legislators.

"Wow. We need to make sure this rag tag temporary Government in the Ukraine understands the value of Burisma to its very existence," Archer wrote Hunter Biden after the vice president's comments were forwarded to him.

Hunter Biden wrote back: "You should send to Vadim – makes it look like we are adding value."

Vadim is an apparent reference to Vadim Pozharskyi, an executive at Burisma who dealt directly with Hunter Biden and Devon Archer. Other emails made public last fall suggest Pozharskyi once had a brief meeting with Joe Biden arranged by Hunter Biden.

The emails show Hunter Biden worked with Pozharskyi on polishing a press release a month later in mid-May 2014 to announce his role on the Burisma board.

It also shows that Hunter Biden was cognizant of the legal controversies surrounding the company and its owner Mykola Zlochevsky and planned to have his team at Boies Schiller reach out to U.S. officials in his father's administration to help Burisma become essential to Ukraine's push to free itself from Russian natural gas, which Vladimir Putin used as a geopolitical weapon.

"We can actually be of real value here,” he wrote. "Developing relationships, bringing US expertise to the company, supplying strategic advice on politics and geopolitical risk assessment.

"BSF can actually have direct discussions at state, energy and NSC. They can devise a media plan and arrange for legal protections and mitigate US domestic negative press regarding the current leadership if need be." 

The emails also state Hunter Biden was acutely aware that lobbying on behalf of a foreign company seeking U.S. assistance might trigger requirements under the Foreign Agent Registration Act and urged care that his team stay within the law.

Burisma officials "need to know in no uncertain terms that we will not and cannot intervene directly with domestic policy makers, and that we need to abide by FARA and any other US laws in the strictest sense across the board," Hunter Biden wrote.

The emails also show Hunter Biden hoped to leverage his nascent contacts in Communist China and other countries to possibly create energy deals for Burisma.

"This could be the break we have been waiting for if they really are smart enough to understand our long term value," he wrote. "If they are looking to just use us until the storm passes then we risked far too much for far too little. We could be invaluable in expanding their operations outside Uk [sic] by promoting their US partnerships and expertise - whether that's China, Mexico, other parts of the Black Sea, Poland."

While linking China and Ukraine, Hunter Biden also expressed some frustrations that contacts he had developed in the People's Republic of China had not yet materialized into direct revenue for himself or his company. The son joined the vice president on Air Force Two for a trip to Beijing in December 2013.

"We had assurances that the PRC money would come first, and we would build on that. Right now I don't see that happening," Hunter Biden wrote in mid-April 2014. "If they want us in Beijing once a month and pitching this outside PRC we should be getting paid in advance just like every other team member that's [sic] getting a salary."