Ukrainian company Burisma Holdings hired a consulting firm that attempted to capitalize on the business’s relationship with former Vice President Joe Biden’s son Hunter to secure meetings with the U.S. State Department, the Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday, citing emails.
The firm’s overall efforts to secure a meeting with the State Department and improve Burisma’s image in Washington came amid Ukraine’s corruption investigations into the Ukrainian company and its founder, Mykola Zlochevsky.
Hunter served on Burisma’s board of directors from 2014 until April of this year. The Obama administration cleared Hunter to work for the Ukrainian company despite having received warnings that the company was corrupt from a top U.S. State Department official.
According to the email exchanges between State Department staffers, Karen Tramontano, the chief executive of the firm Blue Star, mentioned Hunter’s position within Burisma in trying to secure a meeting with a senior official at the State Department.
The Wall Street Journal noted:
In the contacts with the State Department, Ms. Tramontano said that Burisma hadn’t engaged in corruption and wanted to change the view of the company in Washington. The former official said that Hunter Biden’s position on the board wasn’t the reason that [the State Department] took the meeting and that no further action was taken after it took place.
State and Blue Star declined the Journal’s request for comment.
The government released the emails in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request submitted by Southeastern Legal Foundation, a conservative public interest nonprofit, on behalf of John Solomon, who shared the obtained information with the Journal.
On Tuesday, the Journal reported:
The documents—email exchanges between State Department staff members made public this week—show that the consulting firm, Washington-based Blue Star Strategies, used Hunter Biden’s name in a request for a State Department meeting and then mentioned him again during the meeting as part of an effort to improve Burisma’s image in Washington.
It isn’t clear whether the younger Mr. Biden knew his name was being used by Blue Star in its contacts with State Department officials on Burisma’s behalf in early 2016. A lawyer for Mr. Biden didn’t respond to a request for comment.
In 2015, the Obama administration “rebuffed” warnings from the top State Department official who oversees policy towards Ukraine, George Kent, that Burisma was corrupt, the Washington Post reported on October 18.
Kent made the revelation while giving a deposition in the Democrat’s impeachment inquiry on October 15. At the heart of the probe is a “whistleblower” complaint accusing President Donald Trump of pressuring Ukraine to investigate Burisma-linked corruption allegations against the Bidens, allegedly in exchange for aid.
Trump, Ukraine, and some impeachment probe witnesses have denied the existence of the alleged quid pro quo at the center of the inquiry in which Trump coerced Ukraine to investigate the Bidens in return for U.S. security assistance. Meanwhile, however, some witnesses have “presumed” that a quid pro quo did take place, citing second-hand knowledge.
Hunter worked for Burisma when his father, while serving as vice president, was charged with overseeing U.S. policy towards Ukraine, prompting corruption accusations by Republicans.
Hunter admitted to ABC News that his father’s political position helped him secure the lucrative appointment to Burisma’s board of directors.
Joe Biden gloated about pressuring Ukraine to fire its top prosecutor in 2016 who had been investigating corruption allegations against Burisma and its owner.