Law firm that employed Hunter Biden devised secret 58-page plan to help Burisma dodge criminal probe

FBI has known details since 2016 when it seized evidence from the first son’s business partners.

Published: June 2, 2024 10:41pm

Updated: June 3, 2024 1:45am

Hunter Biden helped the U.S. law firm that employed him secure a lucrative retainer with Burisma Holdings a decade ago, and its lawyers proceeded to draft a 58-page plan to try to extricate the controversial energy company from an ongoing criminal investigation in Ukraine that relied heavily on trying to influence his father’s administration in Washington, according to evidence gathered by the FBI.

The “legal defense plan” memo by Boies Schiller & Flexner, obtained by Just the News, was part of a collection of 3.39 million pages of evidence that federal agents seized during the 2016 election as part of a securities fraud investigation that targeted some of Hunter Biden’s business partners. Those records are now in the hands of Congress.

The June 2014 document was not on the Hunter Biden laptop that the FBI seized in 2019, but was in the possession of Hunter Biden’s closest business associate, Devon Archer, who is now cooperating with the House GOP impeachment probe of President Joe Biden.

It provides the most direct and detailed window into how Hunter Biden, his business partners and his fellow lawyers at the Boies Schiller & Flexner law firm intended to build pressure in Washington – from the State Department to Congress – to get Ukrainians to drop their criminal pursuit of Burisma after Hunter Biden and Archer were hired to its board of directors.

At the time, Joe Biden was the sitting vice president and was put in charge by President Barack Obama of US-Ukraine policy.

The memo identified several targets that the Burisma legal campaign hoped to contact in Washington, including Amos Hochstein, a longtime adviser to Joe Biden when he was vice president. Hochstein continues to work for Biden as president.

A major goal of the plan, the memo stated, was to “meet with the U.S. officials in Washington, DC who are leading U.S. policy related to Ukraine to brief them on who Burisma is, its significance to the future of Ukraine, and the Investigation in order to seek their advice and assistance; focus on why a legal challenge and/or a taking of Burisma's licenses is detrimental to both U.S. and Ukrainian national interests.”

At the time, the Obama-Biden State Department deemed Burisma and its owner, Mykola Zlochevsky, to be corrupt and suspected the company may have paid bribes, according to testimony during President Donald Trump’s 2019 impeachment and documents later released by the federal government to Just the News under open records laws.

The memo laid out detailed strategies for trying to change that narrative and it clearly laid out the legal risk that Burisma faced at the moment it added Hunter Biden to its board, paying him millions from 2014 to 2017.

“Burisma has been advised that it is the subject of a criminal investigation being conducted by the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine and, upon information and belief, the investigation is politically motivated (the “Investigation),” the draft memo reads.

That single declaration in the memo has caught congressional investigators attention in part because Democrats have repeatedly claimed the Ukrainian energy company—which employed Hunter Biden as a board member—was not under scrutiny when then-Vice President Joe Biden sought the firing of the country’s lead prosecutor in 2015, and linked that demand to a $1 billion U.S. loan guarantee for the struggling post-revolution government in Kyiv.

But Hunter Biden had by then received direct information on the status of the criminal investigation from top Burisma executives. In a May 12, 2014 email, for instance, Hunter Biden was told by a Burisma executive that the evidence of the ongoing criminal probe included "official letters.”

“In that letters it’s stated that pretrial proceedings started following art. 191 part 5 of the Criminal Code -'Misappropriation, embezzlement or conversion or property by malversation.' Full text is attached for your information,” the email read.

The memos are the latest evidence to emerge which suggests the authorities in Ukraine were investigating the company and its founder at the time then-Vice President Biden traveled to Kyiv in December 2015 and decided to tie U.S. aid to the firing of Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin as part of a claimed anti-corruption push. Biden later bragged on C-SPAN that on that visit he said "If the prosecutor is not fired, you are not getting the money."

The Burisma team would work with Hunter’s law firm and other partners, such as FTI Consulting, Burisma lobbyist David Leiter, and later, Democratic consulting firm Blue Star Strategies to organize meetings with U.S. State Department and Ukrainian officials in an attempt to protect the energy company.

As part of the legal defense strategy, BSF outlined plans to “Meet with the U.S. officials in Washington, DC who are leading U.S. policy related to Ukraine” and emphasize its “significance to the future of Ukraine.” BSF’s strategy would be implemented over the following year by the Burisma team, especially after Hunter Biden helped connect the company with Democrat-linked firm Blue Star Strategies.

Blue Star was hired to lobby U.S. State Department officials directly on behalf of Burisma, Just the News previously reported. The firm belatedly registered as a foreign agent for its work for Burisma under the Foreign Agents Registration Act after government pressure.

In early November 2015 discussions about hiring Blue Star Strategies, top Burisma official Vadym Pozharskyi revealed the core purpose for hiring the firm, which fits with BSF’s strategy memo.

The work should be conducted with the “ultimate purpose to close down for [sic] any cases/pursuits against Nikolay [Mykola Zlochevsky] in Ukraine,” Pozharskyi wrote in an email to Hunter Biden and the Burisma team.

Documents from former IRS agents turned whistleblowers Gary Shapley and Joseph Ziegler released by a Congressional committee, as well as testimony from Hunter Biden associate and former Burisma board member Devon Archer also showed that Burisma was acutely aware of the investigation by Ukrainian authorities and was working to undermine it at the same time that then-Vice President Biden was leading the administration’s policy on Ukraine.

After Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin’s ouster in early 2016, his successor in the Prosecutor General’s office shut down the investigation into Burisma. An email chain between Blue Star Strategies executives, Karen Tramontano and Sally Painter, and Eric Schwerin, a Hunter Biden associate at his company Rosemont Seneca, shows the team celebrating the end of the investigation into the company and its founder.

We won and in less than a year. Yea!!!!” Painter wrote to Schwerin in the email:

Longtime business associate of Hunter Biden and fellow Burisma board member Devon Archer told congressional impeachment investigators last summer that Burisma officials were pressuring Hunter Biden to deal with the Ukrainian prosecutor in late 2015, before Vice President Biden visited Ukraine.

In a later interview with former Fox News host Tucker Carlson, posted to X, Archer said more explicitly that Shokin “was a threat” to Burisma. 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,” Archer continued.

The FBI-seized documents also show that federal investigators also have known for years that Hunter Biden was instrumental in landing the retainer agreement for Boies Schiller, in by part by leveraging his position as an incoming board member for the energy company.

For instance, in one email, Hunter Biden was asked by one of his law firm colleagues whether he wanted to be added as a named partner for the retainer agreement. “I would include my name,” Hunter Biden wrote back. “I cc'd Devon to get his thoughts. I plan on joining the Board- but contingent on Burisma engaging BSF as legal counsel.”

Neither Boies Schiller nor Hunter Biden’s lawyer, Abbe Lowell, returned emails seeking comment from Just the News.

In the emails a decade ago, Hunter Biden also made clear he didn’t want any of the money paid by Burisma to Boies to be tracked back to him.

“Two things to make clear- I don't receive any economics from this and the second is they will bill everything against the retainer rather than hourly on top of the retainer,” he wrote in an April 25, 2014 email as the retainer agreement was being negotiated.

But whether he was paid or not, the emails make clear that Hunter Biden played a clear role in organizing the law firm relationship at its inception even as he was moving to take a fiduciary role at Burisma as a board member.

“Mike – Hunter and I just spoke. We’re cancelling the call unless Hunter tells us otherwise,” Boies Schiller lawyer Heather King wrote a colleague on April 22, 2014. “His team spoke to Burisma at 9 and they are anxiously awaiting the engagement letter, so I told Hunter you and I would finish our internal work on that today so they can have it within the next 24 hours.”

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