A spokesman for Rep. Adam Schiff’s House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence denied any impropriety related to a trip taken by a staffer to Ukraine last month sponsored and organized by the Atlantic Council think tank.
The Atlantic Council is funded by and works in partnership with Burisma, the natural gas company at the center of allegations regarding Joe Biden and his son, Hunter Biden.
The Schiff staff member, Thomas Eager, is also currently a fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Eurasia Congressional Fellowship. Burisma in January 2017 signed a “cooperative agreement” with the Council to sponsor the organization’s Eurasia Center.
In a statement to Breitbart News, Schiff’s office denied that Eager is or has been doing work related to the so-called whistleblower’s complaint about President Donald Trump’s phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
Schiff’s House Intelligence Committee reportedly reached a tentative agreement in recent days for the so-called whistleblower to testify. The issue has been at the forefront of the agenda for the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.
Patrick Boland, spokesman for the House Intelligence Committee, told Breitbart News:
This was a bipartisan, bicameral congressional staff trip that was planned months in advance by a well-respected think tank that has worked for nearly sixty years to enhance and strengthen the transatlantic alliance.
A committee staff member who is not part of the Committee’s investigative team applied for and was accepted into the program in January of this year, the culmination of which was a study trip to Ukraine. While in Ukraine, the staffer followed the program of the organizers and did not undertake any other work on behalf of the committee or take additional meetings.
Eager’s trip to Ukraine last month was part of the fellowship program and included nine other House employees. The bi-partisan visit, from August 24 to August 31, was billed as a “Ukraine Study Trip,” and culminated in a meeting with former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko.
The dates of the pre-planned trip are instructive. Eager’s visit to Ukraine sponsored by the Burisma-sponsored Atlantic Council began 12 days after the so-called whistleblower officially filed his August 12 complaint about Trump’s request for Ukrainian assistance in investigating possible corruption related to the Burisma company and Joe and Hunter Biden.
Also mentioned by Trump during the phone call with Zelensky are questions about CrowdStrike, the outside firm utilized to conclude that Russia hacked the Democratic National Committee’s servers since the DNC would not allow the U.S. government to inspect the servers.
CrowdStrike founder Dmitri Alperovitch is a nonresident senior fellow of the Cyber Statecraft Initiative at the Atlantic Council.
Burisma is not an uninvolved Atlantic Council donor. Burisma and the Atlantic Council announced in 2017 that they signed a “cooperative agreement” to promote a shared agenda.
“Burisma’s support and cooperation will enable us to continue to expand our Ukraine programming and to provide new platforms for discussing these vital and timely issues,” said John Herbst, former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine and director of the Council’s Dinu Patriciu Eurasia Center.
Nikolay Zlochevskyi, president of the Burisma Group, commented on the arrangement:
The Atlantic Council has played a vital role in Ukraine in championing transatlantic relations, democracy, and energy security. Mr. Herbst has been a tireless champion for Ukraine, and Burisma welcomes this opportunity to support the work of the Ambassador and the Atlantic Council.
Four months ago, Burisma co-hosted the Council’s second Annual Kharkiv Security Conference.
Burisma further co-hosted a U.S.-Ukraine Business Council event with the Council last year in Washington, DC. David J. Kramer, who was a central figure in disseminating the anti-Trump dossier as a longtime adviser to the late John McCain, is a senior adviser to the Business Council.
Geysha Gonzalez is the Atlantic Council officer listed in public disclosure forms as the point of contact for Eager’s trip to Ukraine with the Council. She is deputy director of the Atlantic Council’s Eurasia Center.
Gonzalez is also one of eleven members of the rapid response team for the Ukrainian Election Task Force, which says it is working to expose “foreign interference in Ukraine’s democracy.”
Another member of the team is Kramer, who served at the McCain Institute for International Leadership as senior director for human rights and democracy.
Kramer revealed in testimony that he held a meeting about the anti-Trump dossier with a reporter from BuzzFeed News who he says snapped photos of the controversial document without Kramer’s permission when he left the room to go to the bathroom. That meeting was held at the McCain Institute office in Washington, Kramer stated.
BuzzFeed infamously published the Christopher Steele dossier on January 10, 2017 setting off a firestorm of news media coverage about the document.
The Washington Post reported last February that Kramer received the dossier directly from Fusion GPS after McCain expressed interest in it. McCain, in turn, passed the dossier document to then-FBI Director James Comey.
In a deposition taken on Dec. 13, 2017 and posted online earlier this year, Kramer revealed that he met with two Obama administration officials to inquire about whether the anti-Trump dossier was being taken seriously.
In one case, Kramer said that he personally provided a copy of the dossier to Obama National Security Council official Celeste Wallander.
In the deposition, Kramer said that McCain specifically asked him in early December 2016 to meet about the dossier with Wallander and Victoria Nuland, a senior official in John Kerry’s State Department.
Schiff signed form
Schiff’s signature appears on the required post-travel disclosure form filed with the House Committee on Ethics documenting the visit to Ukraine. The form signed by Schiff says that Eager’s trip to Ukraine was paid for by the “Atlantic Council’s Eurasia Center.”
The form bearing Schiff’s signature (above) describes the visit thusly:
Series of meetings and visits with gov’t officials, party officials, civil society and private sector reps in Ukraine to learn about ongoing political and military issues, including conflict in the East.
The costs for Eager’s visit listed on the form are $2202.91 for transportation, $985.50 for lodging, and $630.15 for meal expenses.
Gonzalez of the Atlantic Council told Breitbart News that Eager started his one year fellowship with the organization in January and that Eager is still a fellow.
Gonzalez said the pre-planned trip was part of the fellowship program, which also includes a full year of round tables and other educational events. She said it was not within her portfolio to comment on issues of funding from Burisma or other donors.
The itinerary of the trip shows a meeting with Poroshenko as well as discussions with local activists, politicians and residents.
Besides Eager, nine other Congressional staffers were listed as participating in the visit. Republicans were represented by Laura Detter, legislative assistant to Rep. Scott Perry (R-PA), Zachery Laven, legislative assistant to Rep. David Schweikert (R-AZ), Michael McCabe, legislative assistant to Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) and Sarah Miller, legislative assistant to Rep. Brian Mast (R-FL).
Common Funding Themes
There are common threads that run through an organization repeatedly relied upon in the so-called whistleblower’s complaint about Trump and CrowdStrike.
One of several themes is financing tied to Google, whose Google Capital led a $100 million funding drive that financed Crowdstrike. Google Capital, which now goes by the name of CapitalG, is an arm of Alphabet Inc., Google’s parent company. Eric Schmidt, the chairman of Alphabet, has been a staunch and active supporter of Hillary Clinton and is a longtime donor to the Democratic Party.
CrowdStrike was mentioned by Trump in his call with Zelensky. Perkins Coie, the law firm that represented the DNC and Hillary Clinton’s campaign, reportedly helped draft CrowdStrike to aid with the DNC’s allegedly hacked server.
On behalf of the DNC and Clinton’s campaign, Perkins Coie also paid the controversial Fusion GPS firm to produce the infamous, largely-discredited anti-Trump dossier compiled by former British spy Christopher Steele.
CrowdStrike founder Alperovitch is a nonresident senior fellow of the Cyber Statecraft Initiative at the Atlantic Council, which takes a hawkish approach toward Russia. The Council in turn is financed by Google Inc. and Burisma.
Besides Google and Burisma funding, the Council is also financed by billionaire activist George Soros’s Open Society Foundations as well as the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, Inc. and the U.S. State Department.
Google, Soros’s Open Society Foundations, the Rockefeller Fund and an agency of the State Department each also finance a self-described investigative journalism organization repeatedly referenced as a source of information in the so-called whistleblower’s complaint alleging Trump was “using the power of his office to solicit interference from a foreign country” in the 2020 presidential race.
The charges in the July 22 report referenced in the whistleblower’s document and released by the Google and Soros-funded organization, the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP), seem to be the public precursors for a lot of the so-called whistleblower’s own claims, as Breitbart News documented.
One key section of the so-called whistleblower’s document claims that “multiple U.S. officials told me that Mr. Giuliani had reportedly privately reached out to a variety of other Zelensky advisers, including Chief of Staff Andriy Bohdan and Acting Chairman of the Security Service of Ukraine Ivan Bakanov.”
This was allegedly to follow up on Trump’s call with Zelensky in order to discuss the “cases” mentioned in that call, according to the so-called whistleblower’s narrative. The complainer was clearly referencing Trump’s request for Ukraine to investigate the Biden corruption allegations.
Even though the statement was written in first person – “multiple U.S. officials told me” – it contains a footnote referencing a report by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP).
That footnote reads:
In a report published by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) on 22 July, two associates of Mr. Giuliani reportedly traveled to Kyiv in May 2019 and met with Mr. Bakanov and another close Zelensky adviser, Mr. Serhiy Shefir.
The so-called whistleblower’s account goes on to rely upon that same OCCRP report on three more occasions. It does so to:
- Write that Ukraine’s Prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko “also stated that he wished to communicate directly with Attorney General Barr on these matters.”
- Document that Trump adviser Rudi Giuliani “had spoken in late 2018 to former Prosecutor General Shokin, in a Skype call arranged by two associates of Mr. Giuliani.”
- Bolster the charge that, “I also learned from a U.S. official that ‘associates’ of Mr. Giuliani were trying to make contact with the incoming Zelenskyy team.” The so-called whistleblower then relates in another footnote, “I do not know whether these associates of Mr. Giuliani were the same individuals named in the 22 July report by OCCRP, referenced above.”
The OCCRP report repeatedly referenced is actually a “joint investigation by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) and BuzzFeed News, based on interviews and court and business records in the United States and Ukraine.”
BuzzFeed infamously also first published the full anti-Trump dossier alleging unsubstantiated collusion between Trump’s presidential campaign and Russia. The dossier was paid for by Hillary Clinton’s campaign and the Democratic National Committee and was produced by the Fusion GPS opposition dirt outfit.
The OCCRP and BuzzFeed “joint investigation” resulted in both OCCRP and BuzzFeed publishing similar lengthy pieces on July 22 claiming that Giuliani was attempting to use connections to have Ukraine investigate Trump’s political rivals.
The so-called whistleblower’s document, however, only mentions the largely unknown OCCRP and does not reference BuzzFeed, which has faced scrutiny over its reporting on the Russia collusion claims.
Another listed OCCRP funder is the Omidyar Network, which is the nonprofit for liberal billionaire eBay founder Pierre Omidyar.
Together with Soros’s Open Society, Omidyar also funds the Poynter Institute for Media Studies, which hosts the International Fact-Checking Network that partnered with Facebook to help determine whether news stories are “disputed.”
Like OCCRP, the Poynter Institute’s so-called news fact-checking project is openly funded by not only Soros’ Open Society Foundations but also Google and the National Endowment for Democracy.
CrowdStrike and DNC servers
CrowdStrike, meanwhile, was brought up by Trump in his phone call with Zelensky.
According to the transcript, Trump told Zelensky, “I would like you to find out what happened with this whole situation with Ukraine, they say CrowdStrike … I guess you have one of your wealthy people…The server, they say Ukraine has it.”
In his extensive report, Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller notes that his investigative team did not “obtain or examine” the servers of the DNC in determining whether those servers were hacked by Russia.
The DNC famously refused to allow the FBI to access its servers to verify the allegation that Russia carried out a hack during the 2016 presidential campaign. Instead, the DNC reached an arrangement with the FBI in which CrowdStrike conducted forensics on the server and shared details with the FBI.
In testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee in January 2017, then-FBI Director James Comey confirmed that the FBI registered “multiple requests at different levels,” to review the DNC’s hacked servers. Ultimately, the DNC and FBI came to an agreement in which a “highly respected private company”—a reference to CrowdStrike—would carry out forensics on the servers and share any information that it discovered with the FBI, Comey testified.
A senior law enforcement official stressed the importance of the FBI gaining direct access to the servers, a request that was denied by the DNC.
“The FBI repeatedly stressed to DNC officials the necessity of obtaining direct access to servers and data, only to be rebuffed until well after the initial compromise had been mitigated,” the official was quoted by the news media as saying.
“This left the FBI no choice but to rely upon a third party for information. These actions caused significant delays and inhibited the FBI from addressing the intrusion earlier,” the official continued.
Biden, Ukraine and Burisma
Ukraine in 2016 removed a key prosecutor probing alleged corruption involving Burisma, the same firm paying Hunter Biden. Joe Biden two years later admitted to personally threatening to withhold loan guarantees from Ukraine unless the prosecutor in question, Viktor Shokin, was removed.
Biden publically boasted about his role in the removal of Shokin during a panel discussion sponsored by the Council on Foreign Relations in 2018.
“I remember going over (to Ukraine), convincing our team … that we should be providing for loan guarantees. … And I was supposed to announce that there was another billion-dollar loan guarantee. And I had gotten a commitment from (then Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko) and from (then-Prime Minister Arseniy) Yatsenyuk that they would take action against the state prosecutor (Shokin). And they didn’t…” Biden said.
“They were walking out to a press conference. I said, nah, … we’re not going to give you the billion dollars. They said, ‘You have no authority. You’re not the president.’ … I said, call him. I said, I’m telling you, you’re not getting the billion dollars. I said, you’re not getting the billion. … I looked at them and said, ‘I’m leaving in six hours. If the prosecutor is not fired, you’re not getting the money.’ Well, son of a bitch. He got fired. And they put in place someone who was solid at the time.”
After it was revealed that Hunter Biden joined the board of Burisma Holdings in 2014, ethics experts were quoted by the news media as raising questions about potential conflicts of interest.
Aaron Klein is Breitbart’s Jerusalem bureau chief and senior investigative reporter. He is a New York Times bestselling author and hosts the popular weekend talk radio program, “Aaron Klein Investigative Radio.” Follow him on Twitter @AaronKleinShow. Follow him on Facebook.
Joshua Klein contributed research to this article.