Hunter Biden's 2017 rant about Burisma: 'I was fighting for the only income I have left'
Joe Biden's son suggested lucrative Ukrainian pay was in jeopardy after father left office.
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After his father left office as vice president, Hunter Biden lamented to a business partner in spring 2017 that his lucrative and controversial relationship with the Ukrainian gas company Burisma Holdings was in danger of falling apart.
"I was fighting for the only income I have left right now from Burisma," Hunter Biden wrote in a series of terse, f-bomb-laden text messages in June 2017 to Tony Bobulinski, the chief executive officer of a China-related venture the Biden family was creating at the time.
The messages were contained in dump of communications that Bobulinski, now a whistleblower to the Senate and FBI, made public in the last week. They were independently verified by Just the News with one of the recipients and provide fresh evidence that Hunter Biden's business fortunes appeared in many ways tied to his father's proximity to power.
Since 2014, Hunter Biden's work as a board member for Burisma and its owner Mykola "Nikolais" Zlochevsky has generated controversy, in part because the Ukrainian gas firm was under corruption investigation at the same time then-Vice President Biden oversaw U.S. anti-corruption policy in Ukraine.
Records obtained by the FBI show that Rosemont Seneca Bohai — a U.S. firm tied to Hunter Biden and his longtime business partner and fellow Burisma board member Devon Archer — received regular monthly payments totaling $166,666 from Burisma starting in 2014 and continuing into 2016. A Senate report last month concluded Hunter Biden and his partner received at least $4 million in payments from the Ukraine gas company.
Obama-Biden era State Department officials testified earlier this year that the Bidens created the appearance of a conflict of interest that undercut U.S. efforts to fight endemic corruption in the former Soviet republic of Ukraine. Hunter Biden acknowledged in an interview he did not have much experience in Ukraine or the gas industry and may have landed the job in part because of his famous name.
The newly released Bobulinski text messages, along with documents obtained by Just the News under the Freedom of Information Act, add a new twist to the long-running saga. They indicate Hunter Biden's work with Burisma — and possibly part of his compensation — may have been tied to a gas deal in neighboring Kazakhstan that was struck in 2014 shortly after the vice president's son was added to Burisma's board.
By spring 2017, Hunter Biden was worried that his Burisma income was in jeopardy and linked that income to his "position" in the Kazakh deal, according to the text messages and separate interviews.
The text message exchanges on June 4-5, 2017 came as an agitated Hunter Biden described to Bobulinski why he had not been more attentive to matters in a separate China deal the two were involved with.
"F[expletive] you Tony, I wasn't asleep and those guys work for the Ukrainians and they think I haven't left my room in 3 days," Hunter Biden texted. "I was on Nikolais boat arguing about my position in their Kazakh deal and it was heated."
"I couldn't call because I was fighting for the only income I have left right now from Burisma. It was a very heated and very tense and extremely unavoidable meeting negotiation that had a lot more at stake than me meeting you to say I'm not sending that letter to the Chairman under any circumstances," Hunter Biden added in the texts.
Lawyers for Hunter Biden and Archer, and a spokesman for the Biden campaign did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Two days prior to the texts, on June 2, 2017, Zlochevsky attended the annual Burisma-sponsored Energy Security for the Future event in Monaco. Also in attendance were the Atlantic Council's John Herbst, Burisma advisor Vadim Pozharskyi and Burisma board member and former president of Poland Alexander Kwasniewski, along with multiple current and former Ukrainian (and other foreign government) officials.
Herbst, a former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, had contacts in 2016 with the U.S. embassy in Kiev about efforts to end the corruption allegations against Burisma, documents previously obtained by Just the News show. The corruption cases in Ukraine were formally closed just days before Joe Biden left office, and U.S. officials feared two separate bribes had been paid by Burisma during the effort to get the cases shut down.
Hunter Biden was not publicly listed as having attended the June 2017 event, but he had attended the forum in the past. His text message to Bobulinski suggested he had been meeting with Zlochevsky on the sidelines.
In December 2014, Burisma entered into an agreement with Kazakhstan's national oil and gas company Kazmunaigaz. According to a press release, this made Burisma the "first company in Ukraine, to develop oil & gas resources in the Republic of Kazakhstan together with the national oil & gas company."
The deal was signed in Astana, Kazakhstan, where a delegation of Burisma executives led by Zlochevsky met with Kazakh officials. Upon announcement of the deal, Zlochevsky stated: "It is a recognition that today Burisma Holdings has unique both onshore and offshore equipment for exploration, drilling and seismic data, which has no analogues in the post-Soviet space. At the beginning of 2015, we are planning to invest in joint projects on the territory of the Republic of Kazakhstan."
On the trip to Astana, Zlochevsky brought with him Archer, Hunter Biden's longtime business partner, and Vadim Pozharskyi. Archer is a longtime friend of the Biden family and joined the board of Burisma around the same time Hunter Biden did in spring 2014. Hunter Biden and Archer were involved in several business ventures together.
Pozharsky is a longtime associate of Zlochevsky and was at the time an advisor to Burisma. Pozharskyi recently made headlines when an email surfaced publicly suggesting he had secured an off-the-books meeting in April 2015 with Vice President Biden arranged by Hunter Biden. The revelation appeared to conflict with Joe Biden's insistence that he "never discussed" his son's business dealings.
The Burisma delegation met with Kazakh Prime Minister Karim Massimov and Kazakh Foreign Minister Yerlan Idrisov. In June 2014, Kazakh dictator Nursultan Nazarbayev had designated Karim Masimov to be his primary delegate to Ukraine, with the goal of forming friendly relations with the fledgling Poroshenko regime. Notably, Breitbart News recently revealed an undated photo showing Joe Biden had dinner with his son Hunter and Massimov and a Kazakh businessman named Kenes Rakishev.
Senate Homeland Security committee chairman Ron Johnson last month identified Rahkishev as the foreign national behind a $142,300 payment that was sent to Archer in 2014 around the time of a key visit by Joe Biden to the region.
"Devon Archer received $142,300 from Kenges Rakishev of Kazakhstan, purportedly for a car, the same day Vice President Joe Biden appeared with Ukrainian Prime Minister Arsemy Yasenyuk and addressed Ukrainian legislators in Kiev regarding Russia's actions in Crimea," Johnson's committee wrote in a report released last month.
Less than a year after Archer's visit to Kazakhstan with Burisma, he was honored as a distinguished guest at a Sept. 27, 2015 "Captains of Industry" banquet hosted by Kazakh leader Nazarbayev on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) meeting in New York.
State Department memos obtained via FOIA by Just the News reveal that members of then-Secretary of State John Kerry's team pulled strings to approve a last-minute request for Undersecretary Catherine Novelli to attend Nazarbayev's banquet with Archer.
"I know the time for UNGA meeting proposals is passed. An additional event has come up. Below, I have a preview draft below and confirmed guest list supplied by the Kazakhstanis," wrote the Kazakhstan desk officer to another State Department official on Sept. 3, 2015.
One week later, the Kazakh desk officer followed up to see if approval had been granted. A separate email on Sept. 10, 2015 shows the expedited request was approved and Undersecretary Novelli would "represent the USG at a dinner hosted by Kazakhstan's President Nazarbayev."
Hunter Biden ended his relationship with Burisma in 2019 as his father, Joe Biden, began his presidential campaign.