The Hill’s John Solomon has gathered over 450 documents from the State Department, the Ukrainian Prosecutor General’s office, the Ukrainian Embassy in Washington, D.C. and the American lawyers representing Burisma (and Hunter Biden) at the time he was employed as a board member and consultant for the company. Solomon is reporting (for the first time) that these documents are in direct conflict with the story Joe Biden has repeatedly told the American people.
Joe Biden, as the Obama administration’s point man for Ukraine, famously boasted that in March 2016, he threatened to withhold $1 billion in U.S. aid from the country if they did not fire the Prosecutor General, Viktor Shokin. He claims he made this demand because Shokin was corrupt, rather than because Shokin’s office was planning to interview his son about his questionable business arrangement with Burisma. This claim was strengthened by the fact that Ukraine is known for it’s corruption.
Within a week of Shokin’s firing, Burisma’s legal team met with Ukrainian officials and according to the Ukrainian government’s official memo of the meeting, offered “an apology for dissemination of false information by U.S. representatives and public figures” about the Ukrainian prosecutor. Solomon reports that the legal team’s efforts to secure this meeting began the same day Shokin’s firing was announced. And according to this memo and the legal team’s internal emails, “Burisma’s American team offered to introduce Ukrainian prosecutors to Obama administration officials to make amends.”
1.) If the Ukraine prosecutor’s firing involved only his alleged corruption and ineptitude, why did Burisma’s American legal team refer to those allegations as “false information?”
2.) If the firing had nothing to do with the Burisma case, as Biden has adamantly claimed, why would Burisma’s American lawyers contact the replacement prosecutor within hours of the termination and urgently seek a meeting in Ukraine to discuss the case?
Solomon has reported before that Ukrainian prosecutors have made repeated attempts since the summer of 2018 to bring this information to the attention of the U.S. Attorney General. They even hired a retired U.S. attorney to hand deliver this material to the current U.S. attorney in New York, who according to the Ukrainian prosecutors, “showed no interest.”
At that point, they contacted Rudy Giuliani.
During their now immortalized telephone call, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky told Trump, “I’m knowledgeable about the situation. The issue of the investigation of the case is actually the issue of making sure to restore the honesty so we will take care of that and will work on the investigation of the case.” He also asked Trump to forward any relevant evidence because he plans to open an investigation into the Biden/Burisma case.
In December 2015, the New York Times reported that, within weeks of Joe Biden becoming the Obama administration’s point man in Ukraine, Hunter Biden had been hired by Burisma. The article said that the company and its founder, Mykola Zlochevsky, were currently under investigation by Ukraine’s Prosecutor General’s office.
Solomon has received documents which he claims “detail an effort to change the narrative after the Times story about Hunter Biden, with the help of the Obama State Department. He has sued the State Department for all records related to these meetings. He writes:
Hunter Biden’s American business partner in Burisma, Devon Archer, texted a colleague two days after the Times story about a strategy to counter the “new wave of scrutiny” and stated that he and Hunter Biden had just met at the State Department. The text suggested there was about to be a new “USAID project the embassy is announcing with us” and that it was “perfect for us to move forward now with momentum.”
Solomon published a video in April of Joe Biden bragging about his threat to withhold “the billion” if Shokin wasn’t fired by the time he left the country in six hours.
Some media outlets have reported that, at the time Joe Biden forced the firing in March 2016, there were no open investigations. Those reports are wrong. A British-based investigation of Burisma’s owner was closed down in early 2015 on a technicality when a deadline for documents was not met. But the Ukraine Prosecutor General’s office still had two open inquiries in March 2016, according to the official case file provided me. One of those cases involved taxes; the other, allegations of corruption. Burisma announced the cases against it were not closed and settled until January 2017.
After I first reported it in a column, the New York Times and ABC News published similar stories confirming my reporting.
Joe Biden continues to cling to his story that he acted “over concerns about corruption and ineptitude.”
However, Solomon’s newly obtained documents contradict Biden’s claim.
In a newly sworn affidavit prepared for a European court, Shokin testified that when he was fired in March 2016, he was told the reason was that Biden was unhappy about the Burisma investigation. “The truth is that I was forced out because I was leading a wide-ranging corruption probe into Burisma Holdings, a natural gas firm active in Ukraine and Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, was a member of the Board of Directors,” Shokin testified.
“On several occasions President Poroshenko asked me to have a look at the case against Burisma and consider the possibility of winding down the investigative actions in respect of this company but I refused to close this investigation,” Shokin added.
Documents from Burisma’s American lawyers corroborate Shokin’s statements.
These documents also show that members of the legal team began “moving into Ukraine with intensity as Biden’s effort to fire Shokin picked up steam.” Solomon reports the details.
Burisma’s own accounting records show that it paid tens of thousands of dollars while Hunter Biden served on the board of an American lobbying and public relations firm, Blue Star Strategies, run by Sally Painter and Karen Tramontano, who both served in President Bill Clinton’s administration.
Just days before Biden forced Shokin’s firing, Painter met with the No. 2 official at the Ukrainian embassy in Washington and asked to meet officials in Kiev around the same time that Joe Biden visited there. Ukrainian embassy employee Oksana Shulyar emailed Painter afterward: “With regards to the meetings in Kiev, I suggest that you wait until the next week when there is an expected vote of the government’s reshuffle.”
Ukraine’s Washington embassy confirmed the conversations between Shulyar and Painter but said the reference to a shakeup in Ukrainian government was not specifically referring to Shokin’s firing or anything to do with Burisma.
Painter then asked one of the Ukraine embassy’s workers to open the door for meetings with Ukraine’s prosecutors about the Burisma investigation, the memos show. Eventually, Blue Star would pay that Ukrainian official money for his help with the prosecutor’s office.
At the time, Blue Star worked in concert with an American criminal defense lawyer, John Buretta, who was hired by Burisma to help address the case in Ukraine. The case was settled in January 2017 for a few million dollars in fines for alleged tax issues.
On March 29, 2016, the day Shokin’s firing was announced, Buretta asked to speak with Yuriy Sevruk, the prosecutor named to temporarily replace Shokin, but was turned down, the memos show.
Blue Star, using the Ukrainian embassy worker it had hired, eventually scored a meeting with Sevruk on April 6, 2016, a week after Shokin’s firing. Buretta, Tramontano and Painter attended that meeting in Kiev, according to Blue Star’s memos.
Sevruk memorialized the meeting in a government memo that the general prosecutor’s office provided to me, stating that the three Americans offered an apology for the “false” narrative that had been provided by U.S. officials about Shokin being corrupt and inept.
“They realized that the information disseminated in the U.S. was incorrect and that they would facilitate my visit to the U.S. for the purpose of delivering the true information to the State Department management,” the memo stated.
The memo also quoted the Americans as saying they knew Shokin pursued an aggressive corruption investigation against Burisma’s owner, only to be thwarted by British allies: “These individuals noted that they had been aware that the Prosecutor General’s Office of Ukraine had implemented all required steps for prosecution … and that he was released by the British court due to the underperformance of the British law enforcement agencies.”
The memo provides a vastly different portrayal of Shokin than Biden’s. And its contents are partially backed by subsequent emails from Blue Star and Buretta that confirm the offer to bring Ukrainian authorities to meet the Obama administration in Washington.
For instance, Tramontano wrote the Ukrainian prosecution team on April 16, 2016, saying U.S. Justice Department officials, including top international prosecutor Bruce Swartz, might be willing to meet. “The reforms are not known to the US Justice Department and it would be useful for the Prosecutor General to meet officials in the US and share this information directly,” she wrote.
Buretta sent a similar email to the Ukrainians, writing that “I think you would find it productive to meet with DOJ officials in Washington” and providing contact information for Swartz. “I would be happy to help,” added Buretta, a former senior DOJ official.
Burisma, Buretta and Blue Star continued throughout 2016 to try to resolve the open issues in Ukraine, and memos recount various contacts with the State Department and the U.S. embassy in Kiev seeking help in getting the Burisma case resolved.
Just days before Trump took office, Burisma announced it had resolved all of its legal issues. And Buretta gave an interview in Ukraine about how he helped navigate the issues.
An extraordinary amount of effort was applied to shield Joe Biden and by extension (and most importantly), the Obama administration from the consequences of Biden’s actions.
Fast forward to the present situation.
Joe Biden continues to tell Americans that he forced then-Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko to fire Shokin because he was corrupt.
Documents show the American legal team that represented Burisma and the interests of Hunter Biden offering “an apology for the dissemination of false information by U.S. representatives and public figures” about the Ukrainian prosecutor. Additional records plus a beehive of activity involving lobbyists, diplomats and both U.S. and Ukrainian government officials corroborate this document.
Who would you believe?