Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Ron Johnson (R-WI) has scheduled a vote for the committee next Wednesday to subpoena former Ukrainian politician Andrii Telizhenko, who may shed insight into Hunter Biden’s potential role in trying to help Ukrainian natural gas firm Burisma Holdings evade corruption charges.
A committee meeting to consider a motion to subpoena Telizhenko is scheduled for March 11 at 2:30 p.m., according to a public posting on the committee’s website. The motion will likely pass, with a majority of Republicans on the committee.
Telizhenko was a former Ukrainian diplomat. He worked at Ukraine’s embassy in Washington, DC, between December 2015 and June 2016, as the U.S. presidential campaign was underway, according to the Daily Beast.
Telizhenko has claimed that former Ukrainian Embassy Deputy Chief of Mission Oksana Shulyar worked with former Democratic National Committee (DNC) consultant Alexandra Chalupa, a Ukrainian-American, to help the Hillary Clinton campaign investigate then-Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort.
He told Politico in a January 2017 article that Shulyar instructed him to help Chalupa research connections between Trump, Manafort, and Russia.
“Oksana said that if I had any information, or knew other people who did, then I should contact Chalupa,” he said. “They were coordinating an investigation with the Hillary team on Paul Manafort with Alexandra Chalupa.”
He added, “Oksana was keeping it all quiet [but] the embassy worked very closely with” Chalupa. Other “sources familiar with the effort” told Politico that Shulyar called Telizhenko into a meeting with Chalupa to provide an update on an American media outlet’s ongoing investigation into Manafort.
He said Chalupa told him and Shulyar, “If we can get enough information on Paul [Manafort] or Trump’s involvement with Russia, she can get a hearing in Congress by September .”
Chalupa confirmed to Politico that she had discussed the possibility of a congressional investigation with the office of Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-OH), co-chair of the Congressional Ukrainian Caucus, but that it “didn’t go anywhere.”
Johnson’s subpoena to Telizhenko, however, is focused on his work as a consultant for Blue Star Strategies, a firm Burisma hired to fight allegations of corruption it was facing.
Burisma appointed Hunter Biden to its board in 2014, after his father became the point person in the Obama administration for Ukraine and as the firm’s CEO was facing allegations of corruption and money laundering. Despite having no relevant experience, he was receiving up to $83,000 a month.
After Biden’s appointment to the board, Burisma hired Blue Star Strategies to help them fight off the allegations of corruption and to lobby U.S. officials on its behalf. The New York Times reported in May 2019 that Hunter Biden was linked to Burisma’s hiring of Blue Star Strategies.
“Among the Americans brought in by Hunter Biden’s American business partners to help fend off the investigations was Blue Star Strategies, a consulting firm run by Clinton administration veterans that had done substantial work in Ukraine,” the report said.
Biden had links to one of Blue Star Strategies’ co-founders — Sally Painter, a former senior adviser for the Clinton administration.
He knew Painter from the Truman National Security Project, an organization for young national security experts on the left. Biden and Painter were both directors of the organization at the same time, according to the Washington Free Beacon. The other co-founder was Karen Tramontano, a former deputy chief of staff to President Clinton.
While Painter was working for Burisma, she moderated a panel at a Truman National Security Project event on June 24, 2016. Then-Deputy Secretary of State Tony Blinken had spoken earlier at that event. Three days later, she contacted Blinken’s then-aide William Russo, to schedule a meeting with Blinken and Tramontano to discuss Ukraine, according to the Daily Caller.
Painter wrote to Russo, who currently serves as director of communications for Biden’s presidential campaign, “Per my conversation with Tony at the Truman event, Karen Tramontano and I would like to have a brief coffee with Tony at his earliest convenience regarding some troubling events we are seeing n [sic] Ukraine.”
“(He said yes),” she added, referring to Blinken, who currently serves as foreign policy advisor to Biden’s presidential campaign. “We are just back from Kiev.”
According to the Times, a team from Blue Star Strategies, including John Buretta, a lawyer who served as a senior official in the Obama Justice Department, had two meetings in Ukraine with its top prosecutor, Yuriy Lutsenko, in 2016. Lutsenko replaced Viktor Shokin, whom Joe Biden has stated publicly he pressured Ukraine to fire.
Lutsenko had taken a hard line against Burisma, but within 10 months of taking office, Burisma announced he and the Ukrainian courts had “fully closed” all “legal proceedings and pending criminal allegations” against Burisma’s CEO and his companies and that he had been removed by a Ukrainian court from “the wanted list,” according to the Times.
Sen. Johnson said in a March 1, 2020, letter to colleagues that he has received U.S. government records indicating that Blue Star Strategies sought to use Hunter Biden’s role as a board member of Burisma to “gain access to, and potentially influence matters at, the State Department.”
He said the committee has also requested and received documents from Blue Star Strategies and Telizhenko.
However, he said Telizhenko said he cannot turn over all relevant records unless he is compelled by a subpoena, since some of them are subject to a non-disclosure agreement in his employee contract and Blue Star Strategies has been unwilling to turn over the records, according to Johnson’s letter.
“Because Mr. Telizhenko’s records and information would be responsive to the Committee’s requests, and Blue Star [Strategies] has refused to produce them, a subpoena to Mr. Telizhenko for these records is appropriate at this time,” Johnson wrote.
Democrats have blasted the subpoena as an attempt to hurt Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential election, although Johnson’s efforts were in the works weeks before he announced this week he would seek a subpoena. His committee’s investigation into Burisma has also been going on for nearly a year.
Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) reportedly was considering voting against the motion, but CNN reported Friday that he would vote to pass the motion — likely ensuring its passage — after receiving assurances from Johnson that the investigation would not become a public spectacle.
Johnson also announced this week that he would likely issue an interim report within a month or two focused on what Joe Biden knew about his son Hunter Biden’s role at Burisma.