A year after impeachment, Hunter Biden's Ukraine activities come home to roost
Senate report expected to identify concerns about bribery, suspicious payments and conflicts on Joe Biden's watch.
The Facts Inside Our Reporter’s Notebook
- lobbied mightily in 2016
- Burisma reached as high as Undersecretary of State Catherine Novelli
- Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch in Kiev in December 2016
- George Kent reported concerns in early 2015 that Burisma had just paid a $7 million bribe
- Kent in 2016 successfully canceled a clean energy partnership
- several foreign transactions flowing into firms connected to Hunter Biden were flagged
- $3 million paid by Burisma in Ukraine to one of his firms
A year ago this month, Democrats began their impeachment crusade against President Trump because he had sought an investigation into Joe and Hunter Biden's activities in Ukraine. And the rallying cry then was that any concerns about the Bidens were pure, discredited conspiracy theories.
What a difference a year makes.
The GOP-led Senate Finance and Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs committees plan to release a joint report as early as this week disclosing the results of a year-long probe into Joe Biden's stewardship of Ukraine anti-corruption policy while his son earned big money as a board member at the corruption-plagued Burisma Holdings gas firm.
The report is expected to accuse the former vice president of engaging in a prohibited conflict of interest or the appearance of a conflict of interest by continuing to oversee the U.S. anti-corruption policies in Ukraine while his son served on the board of a natural gas company under investigation by the very Ukrainian prosecutors dependent on U.S. money, guidance and assistance in the fight against corruption that Joe Biden controlled.
The fact that Joe Biden admits he forced the firing in spring 2016 of Viktor Shokin — the Ukrainian prosecutor who was overseeing the Burisma probe — by threatening to withhold $1 billion in U.S. aid to Ukraine only heightens the conflict concerns.
Democrats won't be able to easily dismiss the concerns politically because Obama-era State Department officials have admitted in testimony that the Bidens' behavior created the appearance of a conflict of interest that directly undercut U.S. efforts to fight endemic corruption in Ukraine.
But the bigger concern the report is expected to raise is whether U.S. officials during the Obama-Biden era turned a blind eye to red flags about what was going on at Burisma and with Hunter Biden and his business dealings.
Records reviewed by Just the News and provided to the Senate committees reveal that Hunter Biden's name was invoked by a Democratic firm called Blue Star Strategies as it lobbied mightily in 2016 to get the State Department to help make Burisma's corruption problems disappear before that year's presidential election.
Blue Star's wide-ranging efforts included contacts at the State Department in Washington, the U.S. embassy in Kiev and even inside Congress, the memos show.
"They keep trying through every channel they can," a State Department official lamented in summer 2016 in one memo, describing a nonstop pressure campaign.
Blue Star's contacts on behalf of Burisma reached as high as Undersecretary of State Catherine Novelli in February 2016 in Washington and Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch in Kiev in December 2016.
"Per our conversation, Karen Tramontano of Blue Star Strategies requested a meeting to discuss with U/S Novelli USG remarks alleging Burisma (Ukrainian energy company) of corruption," one memo read, citing Hunter Biden's service on the board as one reason State officials should take the meeting.
State Department officials not only chafed at the pressure, they had deep-rooted concerns that Burisma had indeed engaged in bad behavior, including after Hunter Biden joined its board in spring 2014.
Records obtained by Just the News show State official George Kent reported concerns in early 2015 that Burisma had just paid a $7 million bribe to Ukrainian officials to try to make the corruption investigations against it go away.
Kent reported the bribe successfully undercut FBI efforts to help secure an asset forfeiture against Burisma for its owner's past alleged corruption.
The documents also show Kent in 2016 successfully canceled a clean energy partnership between USAID, the department's foreign aid arm, and Burisma because of "reputational" concerns that the natural gas firm was still corrupt.
How Burisma was able to secure the initial deal in 2014 when it was under multiple corruption investigations is expected to be flagged as another example of the conflicts Hunter Biden's role created at State as well as the temptation for government officials to look the other way.
The concerns about Hunter Biden's far-reaching global business deals didn't stop with State, either. Suspicious Activity Reports that the U.S. Treasury Department provided the Senate panels are expected to show that several foreign transactions flowing into firms connected to Hunter Biden were flagged by the department's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network as suspicious.
Those red flags were raised as Hunter Biden benefited from more than $3 million paid by Burisma in Ukraine to one of his firms and secured multiple business deals in communist China, while his business partner Devon Archer boasted in a document obtained by the FBI that he had secured more than $200 million in financing commitments from a Russian oligarch.
Again, Senate investigators will ask the question whether the FBI or U.S. intelligence committees looked the other way because Hunter Biden's father was the vice president.
Such questions are the very reason why conflict of interest laws exist in the U.S government's ethics laws — to avoid putting federal officials in awkward positions that cause Americans to doubt the integrity of their government.
"The public has to be aware of this what I call glaring conflict of interest," Senate Homeland Security Chairman Ron Johnson (R-Wisc.) said recently. "The media is covering for Joe Biden. They're part and parcel of the Democratic Party."
The big question is whether the Senate committees will conclude any laws or regulations were broken.
But no matter where the report comes down on that question, it is no longer a conspiracy theory to question the Bidens' behavior in Ukraine. Even the federal agencies who served under Joe Biden did that.