Ukrainian gas firm Burisma Holdings — where Hunter Biden was employed as a board member — asked the Obama State Department for assistance when the company was being investigated for corruption, just one month before then-Vice President Joe Biden forced the country to fire the prosecutor looking into his son's company.
What are the details?
Investigative journalist John Solomon uncovered the findings in a bombshell report on Monday, revealing several memos he obtained through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit. The documents show several meetings set up between Obama administration officials and Burisma employees, including Hunter Biden, during the 2016 election cycle.
Solomon notes that Hunter Biden's name "was specifically invoked by [a] Burisma representative as a reason the State Department should help, according to a series of email exchanges among U.S. officials trying to arrange the meeting."
A Feb. 24, 2016 email between State Department officials (with the headline, "Burisma"), reads:
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. She noted that two high profile U.S. citizens are affiliated with the company (including Hunter Biden as a board member). Tramontano would like to talk with U/S Novelli about getting a better understanding of how the U.S. came to the determination that the company is corrupt. According to Tramontano, there is no evidence of corruption, has been no hearing or process, and evidence to the contrary has not been considered. Would appreciate any background you may be able to provide on this issue.
Solomon explains that Novelli was the "most senior official overseeing international energy issues for State" during that time, and "Tramontano was a lawyer working for Blue Star Strategies, a Washington firm that was hired by Burisma to help end a long-running corruption investigation against the gas firm in Ukraine."
The meeting between Tramonanto and Novelli was scheduled for March 1, 2016. Another meeting was set for the next day, March 2, 2016, between Burisma board member Devon Archer and then-Secretary of State John Kerry. Within weeks of those two meeting dates, then-Vice President Joe Biden threatened to withhold $1 billion in U.S. aid from the Ukraine unless the country fired it prosecutor general, Viktor Shokin.
Shokin, in early February of that year, had authorized the seizure of property from Burisma's founder, oligarch Mykola Zlochevsky, as part of a corruption probe into the company that had been going on in Ukraine since 2014. Mr. Shokin was, indeed, fired and replaced following Joe Biden's request.