Thursday, June 20, 2024

JTN Exclusive: Joe Biden adviser had contact with Burisma during height of corruption probe, emails show - Steven Richards and John Solomon


by Steven Richards and John Solomon

The new emails were gathered by the FBI in 2016 and show a degree of coordination with then-Vice President Biden top advisor and Burisma. Biden would later brag about quelling the investigation, but still insists he had no knowledge or relationship to his son's business.


Hunter Biden's team arranged for a senior Burisma Holdings executive to meet with one of his father Joe Biden's advisers at the State Department a decade ago, just months after the Ukrainian energy firm's owner was targeted in a high-profile and U.S.-backed corruption investigation, according to documents secretly gathered years ago by the FBI. The elder Biden was vice president at the time.

The documents, obtained by Just the News, chronicle a plan in summer and fall 2014 to connect Burisma executive Vadym Pozharskyi with then-State Department energy adviser Amos Hochstein, now a Middle East envoy for President Joe Biden. It was facilitated by the law firm that employed Hunter Biden at the time, Boies Schiller Flexner.

Hunter Biden himself was directly involved in the outreach, at one point helping to forward a direct number for Hochstein to facilitate a follow-up.

"Pls send D Amos' contact info," Hunter Biden wrote in a November 2014 email asking his business associate Eric Schwerin to forward the phone number to another of his business partners, Devon Archer. 

"Amos is 'Acting Special Envoy, Bureau of energy Resources' at State," Biden added, showing he knew Hochstein's role and its relevance to the Ukrainian energy company.

The documents, which were gathered by the FBI and other federal agencies in 2016 in an unrelated securities fraud case, were recently turned over to the House Oversight Committee by Archer.

The new evidence is significant to House investigators leading the Biden impeachment inquiry for several reasons.

First, some of the documents were not on Hunter Biden's infamous laptop seized by the FBI in December 2019 and were never produced as evidence in Donald Trump's Ukraine impeachment case.

Secondly, Hochstein had been questioned by Senate investigators in 2020 and claimed "he could not recall" whether he had contact with Burisma as early as 2014.

And third, and perhaps most significantly, the efforts to connect Hochstein with Pozharskyi began in July 2014, less than three months after Hunter Biden joined Burisma's board. About that time, Great Britain's Serious Fraud Office made a high-profile effort in April 2014 to freeze Burisma founder Mykola Zlochevsky’s assets as part of a money laundering investigation that was assisted by the FBI.

The Zlochevsky investigation generated international headlines, and the Obama-Biden State Department considered Burisma to be a corrupt company at the time and was advocating for some form of accountability or punishment.

Even Hochstein himself acknowledged the concerns about Burisma in his 2020 Senate testimony. “I certainly associated Burisma as having a corrupt past that I believed needed to be prosecuted,” Hochstein told Senate investigators while testifying he did not recall having contact with the company in 2014.

Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., who was one of the first in Congress to investigate the Biden family's overseas business dealings and to interview Hochstein, told Just the News the new records chronicling the effort to connect Hochstein with Burisma in 2014 were important evidence proving why foreign entities like Burisma were paying Hunter Biden and his associates while his father was vice president.

"Well, it proves that what Hunter Biden was selling for all those millions of dollars was influence, and access," Johnson told the Just the News, No Noise television show. And, again, it's not surprising. What we're seeing now is we're just seeing more and more pieces of the puzzle being found. It starts showing a clearer picture of what happened."

The State Department and Hunter Biden's lawyer Abbe Lowell did not return messages seeking comment on the documents. Hochstein could not be reached over the phone for comment either

One document, a draft meeting schedule prepared for Burisma executive Vadim Pozharskyi’s visit to Washington, D.C., shows that on July 23, 2014 one hour was set aside for Pozharskyi, Burisma lobbyist David Leiter, and Boies Schiller Flexner, LLP law partner Heather King to meet with Hochstein. A source directly familiar with the meeting confirmed to Just the News that it took place. 

Just days after the the meeting, King sent an email to Hunter Biden, Pozharskyi, Burisma board member and Biden business partner Devon Archer, and Leiter that indicates Hochstein had contact with the company representatives. 

“This news is very concerning. I assume you will be sending an email to the State Dept today about this? We will also get you connected with the US Embassy contact so you can hopefully meet with the guy Hochstein recommended as soon as possible,” King wrote.

This email came in response to Burisma's concerns over new laws in Ukraine which were set to raise taxes on private gas producers. It also raises questions about Hunter Biden’s efforts to use his political connections while his father was vice president to influence official policy.

Hochstein's communications with another State Department official weeks before the proposed meeting also indicate that he may have been preparing for a contact with Burisma officials earlier that month, though he could not recall the specifics in his 2020 testimony. 

On July 9, Hochstein wrote to another official saying, "FYI, per your email re: David Leiter." To the email he attached an article titled: "Ukrainian employer of Joe Biden's son hires a D.C. lobbyist." 

When Hochstein was asked by Senate investigators about the communication, he could not recall the specifics. "It sure seems that way, but I can't recall it. David Leiter was mentioned in this article. I may have mentioned the article to her, but I really have no idea," Hochstein said, according to the transcript of his interview. 

Leiter's lobbying disclosures filed with the U.S. Senate show that he lobbied the State Department during the time period when the meeting took place.

At the time, the State Department considered Burisma and its owner corrupt and other agencies in the U.S. government were actively assisting a British investigation into Zlochevsky. Several months earlier, on April 28, 2014, the United Kingdom’s Serious Fraud Office opened a criminal money laundering investigation related to corruption in Ukraine, the office announced in a press release. The country froze $23 million in assets of the individual under investigation the same day.

Though Burisma owner Zlochevsky was not directly named, Hochstein’s testimony confirms the Ukrainian was the subject of the probe by the British government and that the State Department viewed him as corrupt. A report from the Kyiv Post also confirms that Zlochevsky was the target of the British action. 

“There was an active case in the U.K. that the U.S. Government was supporting against Mr. Zlochevsky. Unfortunately, the prosecutor's office in Ukraine did not cooperate with the prosecutor's office in the U.K., and that ultimately was a driving factor in dismissing the case,” Hochstein told Congress, explaining why the department viewed the company as corrupt.

It is unclear from the documents what Hunter Biden’s Burisma associates expected from their meeting with Hochstein or what help he might give them, if any. But, other documents previously unearthed by Just the News show that Boies' firm was central to organizing a legal defense plan for Burisma and Zlochevsky during part of the time that Hunter Biden served on the oligarch's company board.

The Boies firm in June 2014 compiled a detailed 58-page memo, 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, Just the News reported earlier this month. The plan was obtained from the same collection of documents referenced in this article.

The memo identified several targets that the Burisma legal campaign hoped to contact in Washington, including Amos Hochstein, with whom the Burisma representatives would apparently meet one month later.

Leiter again communicated with Hochstein in August, according to another email.

“In addition, I actually ran into Acting U.S. Special Envoy and Coordinator for International Energy Affairs Amos Hochstein this morning. He came right over to say hello,” Leiter wrote to Pozharskyi, King, and Archer.

“Unfortunately, we were both with other people at breakfast, so we did not have the chance to have a very detailed conversation on the developments in Ukraine, but I will reach out to him with a follow up email to let him know about your conversations with John Bush at the U.S. Embassy in Kiev, as well as our upcoming meeting at the Ukrainian Embassy,” he added.

According to Senate lobbying disclosures, Leiter’s representation of Burisma began on July 1 of that year and continued until at least 2016. 

By January 2015, Zlochevsky’s assets were unfrozen after the Serious Fraud Office failed to obtain the cooperation of Ukrainian prosecutors. Later, one State Department official told Senate investigators he believed Zlochevsky had bribed the office in order to shut down the investigation. This alleged bribe would have occurred while Hunter Biden was actively serving on Burisma's board.

Burisma has consistently denied wrongdoing.

Hochstein’s communication with both Hunter Biden extended beyond summer 2014. In November, the day before Joe Biden traveled to Ukraine for his third visit as vice president, Hunter Biden asked Schwerin to forward Hochstein’s contact information to Archer.

“E- Pls send D Amos' contact info,” Biden wrote to Eric Schwerin on November 20. “D- Amos is ‘Acting Special Envoy, Bureau of energy Resources’ at State.”

In 2015, Hochstein continued to discuss Hunter Biden's Burisma affiliation with both Hunter and then-Vice President Joe Biden, according to his own testimony and email evidence. In October 2015, Hochstein reportedly raised the issue of Hunter Biden’s work on Burisma’s board directly with Joe Biden, he told Congress. Despite that, President Biden and his surrogates have insisted there was no overlap between his activities or meetings, and those of his son's.

Hochstein testified that he “wanted to make sure that he [Vice President Biden] was aware that there was an increase in chatter on media outlets close to Russians and corrupt oligarchs-owned media outlets about undermining his message—to try to undermine his [Vice President Biden’s] message and including Hunter Biden being part of the board of Burisma.”

Then, Hunter Biden reached out to him to set up a meeting for coffee on November 4, 2015, shortly after he reportedly spoke with his father, an email from Hunter Biden's laptop shows. The communications between them continued after the meeting. “Amos Hochstein called,” Hunter Biden’s secretary emailed him shortly after. “Please call back today if possible,” she wrote, according to emails previously published by Just the News

On December 6, 2015, Hochstein was photographed briefing the vice president on his way to Ukraine. When Senate investigators asked about this briefing, Hochstein declined to elaborate on the specifics of his conversations with the vice president but said, “In my conversation with Hunter Biden, I did not recommend that he leave the board” of Burisma.

Steven Richards and John Solomon


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