Key senators ask DOJ to probe 'misleading' foreign agent report filed by Hunter Biden-tied firm

Ron Johnson and Chuck Grassley, who led Senate's probe of Hunter Biden business dealings, say the Democrat firm Blue Star Strategies did not disclose several meetings with U.S. officials.

Updated: May 24, 2022 - 11:55pm

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The two senators who led the probe into Hunter Biden's overseas business dealings are asking the Justice Department to review an "incomplete and misleading" foreign lobbying report filed by a Democrat lobbying firm that helped the presidential son's Ukraine business partner.

Sens. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) and Ron Johnson (R-Wisc.) wrote Attorney General Merrick Garland on Tuesday that the recently filed foreign agents lobbying report filed by Blue Star Strategies included inaccurate information and failed to disclose several meetings its lawyers had with the U.S. government while representing Ukraine-based gas firm Burisma Holdings and its founder Mykola Zlochevsky.

Their letter cites evidence first reported by Just the News last week showing Blue Star met with more U.S. officials than those named on the May 12 report it filed with the Foreign Agents Registration Act office at DOJ.

The report belatedly disclosed that the firm engaged in foreign lobbying in 2015 and 2016 on behalf of the Ukrainian company and its founder, whom the U.S. government believed had engaged in corruption. Hunter Biden served on the board of Burisma Holdings from 2014 to 2020.

"Based on the evidence in our possession, it appears Blue Star Strategies failed to disclose on the FARA form at least nine other meetings it had with U.S. government officials — including two meetings with sitting U.S. ambassadors to Ukraine — regarding Burisma and Mr. Zlochevsky," the senators wrote.

The senators also said the lobbying report appeared to conflict with the testimony that Blue Star Strategies partners Karen Tramontano and Sally Painter gave to the Senate during the 2020 Hunter Biden probe.

Just the News reported that while the two women denied in testimony they were seeking to influence or lobby U.S. officials with their contacts, one of the officials they met with in 2016, Joe Biden energy adviser Amos Hochstein, testified the firm did in fact try to change his position on Burisma Holdings.

"Ms. Tramontano told the Committees that Blue Star Strategies engaged in 'government relations assistance' in the United States for Burisma and Mr. Zlochevsky. However, Ms. Painter denied to the Committees that Blue Star Strategies' activities were 'government relations assistance,'" the senators wrote Garland. "Both Ms. Tramontano and Ms. Painter denied to the Committees that they lobbied the U.S. Government on behalf of Burisma and Mr. Zlochevsky and denied that they intended to influence U.S. policy with respect to them.

"However, Mr. Hochstein's testimony before the Committees contradicted Ms. Tramontano's and Ms. Painter's claims," they added. "When the Committees asked Mr. Hochstein whether he believed Blue Star Strategies intended to 'alter or influence U.S policy with respect to Zlochevsky,' he told the Committees, 'They did not like my answer [regarding Mr. Zlochevsky], and they tried to convince me otherwise.' This example indicates that Blue Star Strategies did, in fact, engage in lobbying efforts on behalf of Burisma and its owner."

Peter Kadzik, a lawyer for Blue Star Strategies, told Just the News in a statement that he would not comment on the specifics of the case other than to say the filing of the belated FARA report closed down a federal investigation of the firm without further action.

"The Department of Justice (DOJ) inquiry in which Blue Star Strategies fully cooperated is closed," Kadzik said. "There was no finding of any wrongdoing. To respond to the DOJ request, Blue Star Strategies submitted an administrative filing to explain the purpose of meetings that were held."

Grassley and Johnson asked Garland to answer eight questions, including whether the omissions and inaccuracies on the FARA form were deliberate, and "how will DOJ hold Blue Star Strategies officials accountable if it determines those officials made deliberately inconsistent and inaccurate disclosures on FARA forms."

"Based on our investigative records and recently published Foreign Agents Registration Act ("FARA") forms, it appears that Blue Star Strategies' top executives, Karen Tramontano and Sally Painter, filed incomplete and misleading information with the Department of Justice," they added.