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Probe of Burisma was active when Joe Biden forced prosecutor’s firing, Hunter's documents show

Despite claims that the investigation into Burisma was "dormant" when Pres. Biden held up $1 billion loan to Ukraine and demanded that Ukrainian Prosecutor Shokin be fired, Hunter Biden’s own communications, committee documents, and his own business partner show otherwise.

Published: October 13, 2023 11:00pm

Updated: October 13, 2023 11:23pm

Emails obtained from Hunter Biden’s laptop, documents released recently by the House Ways and Means Committee, and Devon Archer’s testimony call into question a long-held narrative that a Ukrainian investigation into Burisma Holdings was “dormant” in fall 2015 when then-Vice President Joe Biden intervened to force the firing of Ukrainian Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin.

In fact, the Ukrainian energy company was acutely concerned about Shokin’s investigation and wanted it closed, the memos show.

A CNN fact-check parotted the administration's narrative that “Shokin was not prosecuting Burisma,” after then-President Donald Trump made the claim during the 2020 election. “While there had been an investigation of the company, Shokin's former deputy, Vitaliy Kasko, has said that it was dormant at the time of Joe Biden's intervention,” CNN wrote.

But documents from Hunter Biden laptop released by a Congressional committee last week, and testimony from Hunter Biden associate and former Burisma board member Devon Archer show Burisma believed that Shokin was actively investigating the company. The documents also show that Burisma sought Hunter Biden’s help by using his American connections to close the case permanently.

Hunter Biden’s emails: Discussion about how to close down the investigation

In fall 2015, just as Vice President Biden was preparing a trip to Kyiv to deliver a new $1 billion loan guarantee to the Ukrainian government, Hunter Biden and his team at Burisma were working to deal with the public relations fallout surrounding his role in Burisma’s board.

Hunter Biden worked with government relations firm Blue Star Strategies, ostensibly to develop a plan to halt investigations into Burisma and its founder, Mykola Zlochevsky.

In September 2015, then-U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt gave a speech in Odessa criticizing the prosecutor general’s office for failing to pursue corruption allegations against Burisma in the period before Shokin became the head of the office. Pyatt said that "Rather than supporting Ukraine’s reforms and working to root out corruption, corrupt actors within the Prosecutor General’s office are making things worse by openly and aggressively undermining reform."

The speech galvanized the prosecutor general’s office to launch an effort to seize assets of Burisma founder Mykola Zlochevsky, which was carried out in February 2016. In addition, the speech later prompted U.S. news media to inquire about Hunter Biden’s role with the company. 

After the media scrutiny ramped up, Hunter Biden recommended that Burisma hire Blue Star Strategies, a Democrat-connected firm in Washington. On Nov. 2, 2015, Vadim Pozharskyi—the Burisma executive and associate of Hunter Biden—emailed the team questioning the scope of the work that Blue Star had given in a proposal document.

“The scope of work should also include organization of a visit of a number of widely recognized and influential current and/or former US policy-makers to Ukraine in November aiming to conduct meetings with and bring positive signal/message and support on Nikolay's issue to the Ukrainian top officials above with the ultimate purpose to close down for any cases/pursuits against Nikolay in Ukraine,” Pozharskyi wrote the team, reiterating the purpose of retaining Blue Star.

You can read that email, released by the House Ways and Means Committee, here:

 

Pozharskyi was insistent that this objective be explicitly included in the work that Blue Star proposed. Devon Archer and Hunter Biden were also on board, but they knew that Blue Star was deliberately refraining from putting that objective in writing.

“I would tell Vadym that this is definitely done deliberately to be on the safe and cautious side and that Sally [Painter] and company [Blue Star] understand the scope and deliverables,” Eric Schwerin, an associate of Hunter Biden, wrote to Archer.

If the case against Burisma and its founder Zlochevsky was dormant, as the story goes, why would a Burisma executive be concerned with ensuring that any “cases/pursuits” against Zlochevsky in the country be closed down?

Ways and Means docs: Blue Star Strategies celebrates ending of the probe

A Blue Star Strategies memo and communications released in the trove of IRS whistleblower documents from the House Ways and Means Committee show that the government relations firm was working to end the Ukrainian government’s investigation into Zlochevsky and that they celebrated when the probe was finally ended in fall 2016.

After Hunter Biden connected Burisma with Blue Star Strategies, the firm delivered a “Crisis Communications and a Long-term Government Relations Strategy” memo to the company.

“We are pleased to submit this final proposal for your consideration for Blue Star Strategies to provide government relations support to Burisma Holdings Ltd.,” the memo reads.

Then the memo describes the background, including reference to the case against Zlochevsky. “In Ukraine, the criminal case against Mr. Zlochevsky by the Prosecutor General’s Office is ongoing, but has been suspended twice, most recently in August 2015,” the memo reads, acknowledging the existence of the case. “We will follow the proceedings in the case and look for opportunities to promote the facts about Burisma overall and closure of the file against Mr. Zlochevsky.”

The Blue Star team identified several U.S. officials across the Obama Administration that would be the targets of their influencer strategy to change Burisma’s image. The same would be done with Ukrainian government officials.

You can read the memo below:

If the investigation were indeed “dormant” or posed no threat to Burisma, why would the company be interested in having Blue Star Strategies seek the “closure of the file” against Zlochevsky at the Prosecutor General’s Office?

Devon Archer testifies: Burisma was experiencing pressure from Ukrainian government

In his testimony before the House Oversight Committee this summer, Devon Archer—the longtime business associate of Hunter Biden and fellow Burisma board member—told congressional investigators that Burisma Holdings was pressuring the younger Biden to deal with the Ukrainian prosecutor Shokin.

During a Burisma board meeting in December 2015 in Dubai, Pozharskyi and Zlochevsky asked Hunter Biden to “call D.C.,” according to Archer’s testimony about the event. “The request was I think they were getting pressure and they requested Hunter, you know, help them with some of that pressure,” Archer said.

“What pressure?” Investigators asked. “Government. Government pressure on their—you know, government pressure from Ukrainian Government investigations into Mykola, et cetera” he replied.

“What did Hunter Biden do after he was given that request?” the committee asked Archer. “Listen, I did not hear this phone call, but he—he called his dad,” Archer responded by telling investigators that Pozharksyi told him so afterwards.

You can read Devon Archer’s testimony below:

 

In a later interview with former Fox News host Tucker Carlson on X (formerly Twitter), Devon Archer expanded on his testimony. “And so at the end of the day Shokin was taking a look and again, I wasn’t involved in Shokin or any of this, but he was a threat,” Archer told Carlson. “He ended up seizing the assets of, of, Nikolai (Mykola Zlochevsky)… house and cars, a couple of properties and, and Nikolai actually never went back to Ukraine after Shokin seized all of his assets,” he continued.

If the investigation was “dormant” at the time Vice President Biden called for Shokin to be fired, using the $1 billion loan guarantee as leverage, why would Burisma have perceived Shokin as a threat?

The emerging evidence indicates that there was in fact an investigation or pressure by Viktor Shokin against Burisma at the time that Hunter Biden served on the board and his father called for Shokin’s firing in exchange for U.S. aid.

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