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Hunter Biden, Burisma pals tried to enlist help of Secretary Kerry's daughter

Newly unearthed emails show they hosted 2015 fundraiser for Vanessa Kerry's charity, then sought her help in shining up reputation of Ukrainian energy firm shadowed by corruption allegations.

Published: June 15, 2021 10:24pm

Updated: June 16, 2021 8:47am

In the summer of 2015, Hunter Biden and his longtime business partner, the now-convicted felon Devon Archer, already had an ace connection to then-Secretary of State John Kerry: a third partner in many of their Rosemont Seneca ventures was Christopher Heinz, the secretary's stepson.

But when Archer and Hunter Biden jumped into business with a Ukrainian energy company called Burisma Holdings in 2014, Heinz wanted no part because of the firm's reputation for corruption.

So Archer, the younger Biden and their Burisma cohorts targeted another family member, Secretary Kerry's daughter Vanessa, as they tried to improve Burisma's reputation amidst corruption investigations in Ukraine that were being cheered on by the Obama-Biden administration's diplomats in Ukraine.

Emails turned over to the FBI on an abandoned Hunter Biden laptop detail an effort to court Dr. Vanessa Kerry by raising money for her global health charity and then asking the same group to provide help to the Ukrainian people through a partnership with Burisma that would almost certainly burnish the gas firm's reputation.

On July 22, 2015, Archer sent a fundraiser invitation to his wife and Hunter Biden, among other contacts. "I am writing to invite you to our upcoming event in the Hamptons for Seed Global Health, the organization founded by Vanessa Kerry," Archer wrote. "We are hosting a small cocktail party on Sunday, August 16th, at the Quogue Club at Hallock House to raise funds and awareness from my friends there," the email invite beckoned.

Archer's private fundraiser endeavored to raise $100,000 for Seed Global Health and offered three tiers for prospective donors: $10,000 for a "Chair" of the fundraiser, $5,000 to be a fundraiser "Host," and each "Guest" of the fundraiser would have to pony up $1,000. 

Archer wrote he had "already lined up several chairs and hosts, and each will bring a few guests." Archer hoped that his friends would "consider supporting Vanessa's project by joining us" and a leaked copy of a separate invitation showed that Vanessa Kerry's name was in a larger font than that of Seed Global Health.

Burisma had been currying favor with individuals who had access to the highest levels of the Obama-Biden administration for more than a year. Shortly after President Obama named Vice President Joe Biden his point man on the crisis in Ukraine in May 2014, Burisma placed Hunter Biden and Archer on its board and paid them a monthly fee of $83,333 each.

The company also hired John Kerry's former chief of staff, David Leiter, to lobby Congress and the Kerry State Department, according to lobbying records.

While on Burisma's payroll, Biden and Archer met with Kerry's deputy at the State Department, Tony Blinken. 

On July 22, 2015 — the same day Archer sent the fundraiser invitation — Hunter Biden was actually at the State Department meeting directly with Blinken, according to government documents obtained by Just the News under the Freedom of Information Act. Blinken testified he and Hunter Biden only talked about personal issues relating to the death of Hunter's brother Beau Biden.

At the time of the Burisma board appointments, Archer's longtime friend (and college roommate) Heinz immediately informed his stepfather's chief of staff and another State Department aide that he had no interest in the Burisma deal. 

Through a spokesman, Heinz has maintained that he "strongly warned Mr. Archer that working with Burisma was unacceptable" and "the lack of judgment in this matter was a major catalyst for Mr. Heinz ending his business relationships with Mr. Archer and Mr. Biden."

Heinz's stepsister, Vanessa Kerry, apparently did not see the same red flags, and felt comfortable considering an appeal from the Burisma team to help, according to the emails provided to the FBI. 

After the fundraiser hosted by Archer, Vanessa Kerry sent an email to Archer and Burisma executive Vadym Pozharskyi confirming her interest in partnering with Burisma. 

"As you know, Ukraine would pose an expansion of activity for us in a number of ways and we discussed the prospect with our Board to get their backing," Dr. Kerry wrote in November 2015, mentioning that the Seed Global Health board had approved her to conduct an assessment before committing to a long-term partnership with Burisma. Dr. Kerry hoped to discuss this with Archer and Pozharskyi and wondered if "Burisma could help support this initial phase as well." Archer quickly forwarded the good news to Hunter Biden.

The emails don't provide further insight into how much Burisma, its executives, and their associates donated to Dr. Kerry's nonprofit or whether Seed Global Health's relationship with Burisma ever developed further. 

Vanessa Kerry and a spokesman for the group did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

U.S. State Department officials in Ukraine have complained in documents released under FOIA and Senate testimony that they believed Burisma was a corrupt firm and had even paid two bribes to Ukrainian officials while Hunter Biden served on the board. State officials even canceled a USAID arrangement with Burisma over the corruption concerns, Just the News has previously reported

In fact, just two months before Vanessa Kerry got her board's approval to explore a Burisma partnership, then-U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt gave a speech in Odessa demanding Ukrainian prosecutors do more to bring Burisma's founder Mykola Zlochevsky to justice in the long-dragging corruption probes in that country.

By December 2015, Pyatt was sending emails to superiors setting forth his corruption concerns about Burisma as Vice President Biden prepared to visit Ukraine.

"I assume all have the DoJ background on Zlochevsky," Pyatt wrote in an email to top Biden advisers in the White House. "The short unclas version (in non lawyer language) is that US and UK were cooperating on a case to seize his corrupt assets overseas (which had passed through the US)," according to emails obtained by Just the News.


Pyatt added that the asset forfeiture case "fell apart" when individuals in the Ukrainian prosecutor general's office "acted to thwart the UK case."

The Ukrainians were not the only foreign business partners of President Biden's son that sought a closer relationship with the daughter of Secretary Kerry. The Chinese executives at BHR also became Seed Global Health benefactors after Archer's August 2015 fundraiser.

At the time, the Chinese state-backed BHR joint venture with Biden, Archer and Heinz was actively engaged in the takeover of a Michigan manufacturer called Henniges Automotive. The deal — codenamed "Project Hanson" by BHR executives — was sensitive and required approval from the Obama-Biden CFIUS panel. 

Internal documents reveal how the Chinese Communist Party's (CCP) state-owned military supplier Aviation Industry Corporation (AVIC) was able to cloak its ownership structure through shell companies and subsequently partner with the sons of the vice president and secretary of state on the takeover a U.S. manufacturer of sensitive technology. AVIC has been sanctioned at least five times since 1993 and was added to a federal "watch list" in 2014 — well before the Henniges transaction.

Republican Senator Charles Grassley of Iowa was so alarmed by the politically connected Henniges takeover by entities linked to the CCP's People's Liberation Army (PLA) that he drafted a letter to the head of CFIUS (then-Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin) seeking answers.

"The direct involvement of Mr. Hunter Biden and Mr. Heinz in the acquisition of Henniges by the Chinese government creates a potential conflict of interest," Senator Grassley wrote in his August 2019 letter. "Both are directly related to high-ranking Obama administration officials. The Department of State, then under Mr. Kerry's leadership, is also a CFIUS member and played a direct role in the decision to approve the Henniges transaction. The appearance of potential conflicts in this case is particularly troubling given Mr. Biden's and Mr. Heinz's history of investing in and collaborating with Chinese companies, including at least one posing significant national security concerns."

Grassley's letter made no mention of Archer's 2015 fundraiser, but more internal BHR documents reveal that the fundraiser for Dr. Kerry's nonprofit may have posed an additional conflict for her father, the secretary of state. 

According to a December 2015 internal document, BHR's Chinese executive gave a "special shout out to our director and shareholder, Devon Archer, for his involvement with the Seed Global Health non-profit foundation, which works to send medical staff and resources globally to countries in need." The document proclaimed that "BHR will continue to support this and other worthy causes."

Less than one month after Archer's fundraiser for Dr. Kerry, the Obama-Biden CFIUS department approved the CCP's military-linked takeover of an American manufacturer. Biden's associates celebrated the approval, calling the Henniges deal a "proof of concept" for future China-backed mergers and acquisitions. "Congratulations!!!! Proof of concept again," read the subject line of an email sent by Devon Archer on Sept. 15, 2015.

Dr. Kerry's nonprofit has previously drawn criticism for taking more than $9 million in non-competed State Department funds. In 2018, federal prosecutors charged a Seed Global Health executive with violating conflict of interest laws and illegal lobbying.

Seed Global Health, Vanessa Kerry, Hunter Biden and Devon Archer have not yet replied to Just the News' requests for comment.

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