Americans weren’t generally aware of Joe and Hunter Biden’s shenanigans in Ukraine, but Obama’s State Department certainly was, as was Ukraine, its pro-Russian newspaper sardonically referring to the soon to be then-Vice President Joe Biden showing up to protect his son’s business in Ukraine.
We learned this from three pages of State Department records. They include a January 17, 2017, email from George Kent, the Obama administration’s deputy assistant secretary of state in charge of Ukraine policy, which was copied to then-U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, highlighting Russia-linked media “trolling” Joe Biden over “his son’s business.”
We obtained the records in response to our FOIA lawsuit filed in January 2020 seeking records of communications from the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv mentioning Burisma (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of State (No. 1:20-cv-00229)). (The records had been separately released to Citizens United.)
An email was sent four days prior to the inauguration of President Donald Trump to a redacted recipient and CCd to Yovanovitch with the subject line “medvedchuk-linked vesti trolls Biden.” Kent writes: “Burisma – gift that keeps on giving. (With medvedchuk affiliated Vesti pushing the troll like storyline on visit day)”
Medvedchuk refers to Viktor Medvedchuk, a Ukrainian politician, lawyer, business oligarch, and People’s Deputy of Ukraine. He’s considered a Putin ally. Vesti is the pro-Russian newspaper in Ukraine.
Hunter Biden, son of then-Vice President Joe Biden, served on the board of directors for Ukrainian energy firm Burisma Holdings despite having no previous experience in the energy industry.
Kent includes a “Review of Ukrainian Printed Press” that includes the Ukrainian newspaper Vesti, which described Biden’s visit to Ukraine, saying: “Will J. Biden arrive to secure his son’s business? According to experts, J. Biden, as the unofficial curator of ‘the Ukrainian question’, will give P. Poroshenko recommendations about working with the new US administration. Another aspect is the protection of his own business interests.”
On January 17, 2017, Biden was on his sixth visit in seven years to Ukraine. When Biden visited Ukraine in 2015, he threatened to withhold $1 billion if the country’s top prosecutor was not dismissed. Hunter Biden was under investigation by the later-fired prosecutor general.
Kent and Yovanovitch were both star witnesses for Democrats in the Trump impeachment hearings. Kent testified he warned the Obama administration about Hunter Biden’s work with Burisma: “My concern was that there was the possibility of a perception of a conflict of interest.” Kent answered the questions of Rep. Kathy Castor (D-FL):
CASTOR: OK, but you know Hunter Biden’s role in Burisma’s board of directors. At some point you testified in your deposition that you expressed some concern to the Vice President’s Office. Is that correct
KENT: That is correct.
CASTOR: And what did they do about that concern that you expressed?
KENT: I have no idea. I reported my concern to the Office of the Vice President.
In April 2014, Hunter Biden joined the board of the Ukrainian gas company. He served on the board until early 2019. Burisma, which was under investigation by the Ukrainian government, stated at the time of his hiring that Biden would be “in charge of the Holdings’ legal unit and will provide support for the Company among international organizations.”
This email shows the Obama State Department had a longstanding concern about then-Vice President Joe Biden’s son Hunter Biden’s Burisma involvement – and how the Russians were using Biden’s conflicts of interest to undermine U.S. policy.