Former Vice President Joe Biden claimed in December that he was never told his son’s business dealings in Ukraine posed a conflict of interest. He also said last September that he had never spoken to his son about his business dealings.
A new report suggests both of those claims may be false.
The report, released Wednesday by two Senate committees, suggests that Biden was briefed about the fact that his son’s dealings with Burisma Holdings, a Ukrainian natural gas conglomerate, suggested a conflict of interest for the Obama administration.
The report, which was made public on Wednesday, indicates that at least two individuals raised concerns about Hunter Biden’s service on Burisma’s board of directors during the former vice president’s tenure in office.
The first individual, deputy assistant secretary of state George Kent, testified before Congress earlier this year that he reached out to Biden’s office in February 2015 to warn about Hunter Biden’s work with the natural gas company.
Kent, who was then serving as the deputy chief of mission in Ukraine, became aware of the younger Biden’s ties to Burisma when looking into allegations the company had reportedly bribed law enforcement authorities in Kiev.
“After, I became aware that Hunter Biden was on the board of Burisma,” Kent said. “Soon after that in a briefing call with … office of the vice president, in February 2015, I raised my concern that Hunter Biden’s status as a board member could create the perception of a conflict of interest.”
Kent further testified that he had told the vice president’s staff that “someone needed to talk to Hunter Biden, and he should [step] down from the board of Burisma” so as not to complicate the administration’s anti-corruption efforts in Ukraine.
Although no one ever followed up with Kent over his concerns, in December of that year, as Biden was preparing to head to Ukraine, a top adviser, Amos Hochstein, broached the subject directly with the vice president.
Hochstein, then the Obama administration’s special envoy on energy affairs, raised the topic because of concerns that Russia was “using Hunter Biden’s role with Burisma to sow disinformation.”
“I wanted to make sure that he 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 … including Hunter Biden being part of the board of Burisma,” Hochstein told the Senate investigation.
Hochstein also said that a meeting with Hunter Biden after that conversation seemed to clarify that the vice president had discussed the issue with his son.
“Shortly after his conversation with Vice President Biden, Hunter Biden contacted Hochstein and asked to meet,” the report states. “According to Hochstein, Hunter became aware of Hochstein’s West Wing conversation with the Vice President, who had mentioned it to Hunter.”
The testimonies of both Hochstein and Kent undercut the denials that Biden has made regarding how much he knew about his son’s work in Ukraine while in office and whether he spoke with him about it.
“I have never spoken to my son about his overseas business dealings,” Biden said last year.
Hunter Biden later told the New Yorker that he had, in fact, discussed his business dealings with his father.
The elder Biden also told NPR last December: “Nobody warned me about a potential conflict of interest. Nobody warned me about that.”
He suggested that staffers had been unwilling to broach the subject because his oldest son, Beau, was losing his battle with brain cancer at the time. “Well, my son was dying, so I guess that’s why… But … they should have told me.”
As Breitbart News has previously reported, Biden joined Burisma’s board of directors around the same time his father was tapped to be the Obama administration’s point man on Ukraine. Despite having no background in either eastern Europe or the energy industry, Biden was paid as much $83,000-per-month for his services.
On the day of the appointment, White House press secretary Jay Carney and State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki fielded questions about Hunter Biden’s role with Burisma. At the time, Carney and Psaki ducked the topic, telling the media Hunter Biden was a “private citizen,” and referring the matter to then-Vice President Joe Biden’s office.
A review of statements issued by the former vice president’s office seems to indicate no public comment was made in days following the appointment. It is unlikely that either the White House or the Kerry-led State Dept. would have issued initial statements without coordinating with the then-vice president or his staff.
Biden’s campaign did not return requests for comment on this story.