Hunter Biden, the youngest son of former Vice President Joe Biden, ditched his Secret Service protection in 2014 shortly after Time magazine published an article highlighting his financial ties to Burisma Holdings, a Ukrainian natural gas conglomerate.
A report by the Senate Homeland Security Committee released on Wednesday indicates the younger Biden took 411 domestic and international flights upon which the federal government provided security between June 2009 and July 2014. Secret Service flight logs show that Hunter Biden traveled to at least 29 foreign countries, including one trip to Russia and five visits to China, respectively.
The records, however, indicate that Hunter Biden’s foreign travel petered off after he joined Burisma’s board of directors in May 2014, culminating in his decision to decline further Secret Service protection on his travels in July of that year. The timing of that decision seems to indicate other factors may have been at play, as the Homeland Security Committee’s report notes.
“It should be noted that the day before his last trip as a protectee, Time published an article describing Burisma’s ramped up lobbying efforts to U.S. officials and Hunter’s involvement in Burisma’s board,” the report states, clarifying it could not ascertain the exact reason for the younger Biden’s decision.
The article in question highlighted how Hunter Biden’s hiring by Burisma “coincided with the launch of a new effort to lobby members of Congress about the role of the company in Ukraine and the country’s quest for energy independence.” At the time, the magazine specifically noted that although the younger Biden and the Obama administration denied there was any overlap in the ventures, ethics watchdogs in both the U.S. and Ukraine were dubious.
As Breitbart News has previously reported, Hunter 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, Hunter was paid as much $83,000 per month for his services.
Adding to concerns was that he joined the company at a time when it was actively courting western leaders to prevent scrutiny of its business practices. The same month of the appointment, Mykola Zlochevsky, the firm’s founder, had his assets frozen in the United Kingdom on suspicion of money laundering. A Ukrainian official with ties to Zlochevsky admitted in October 2019 the only reason Hunter Biden was tapped to join Burisma was to “protect” the company from foreign scrutiny.
Zlochevsky eventually succeeded in having assets frozen by allegedly paying a $7 million bribe to Ukraine’s then-prosecutor general in December 2014, according to testimony Deputy Assistant Secretary of State George Kent delivered to Congress earlier this year. Kent, who was then serving as the deputy chief of mission in Ukraine, only became aware of Hunter Biden’s role with Burisma after the bribe was supposedly paid and raised concerns with his superiors in the Obama-era State Department over the perception of a conflict of interest.
It is in the context of Burisma and Zlochevsky’s legal troubles that Joe Biden’s influence has raised red flags. The former vice president has particularly drawn questions over his conduct in demanding the Ukrainian government fire its top prosecutor, Viktor Shokin, in 2016. The demand for Shokin’s ouster was tied to more than $1 billion in U.S. loan guarantees.
The former vice president, who has publicly bragged about the firing, has claimed the demand came from then-President Barack Obama, who had allegedly lost faith in the prosecutor’s ability to tackle corruption. Unofficially, though, it was known that Shokin was investigating both Burisma and Zlochevsky for public corruption.
It is uncertain if that probe extended to Hunter Biden, although Shokin has claimed that prior to his ouster, he was warned to back off the matter. Regardless of what occurred, Shokin’s successor, who is now himself being investigated for public corruption, dropped the investigation into Burisma.
Hunter Biden remained on the company’s board until his term expired in April 2019. During his tenure, Burisma wired millions of dollars to a Morgan Stanley bank account controlled by the younger Biden and his business associates. Between November 2014 and November 2015 alone, Burisma transferred more than $3.5 million to the account.
The former vice president’s campaign did not return requests for comment on this story.