Tuesday, December 1

Hunter Biden, Burisma, and Corruption: The Impact on U.S. Government Policy and Related Concerns

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Source:

U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs

U.S. Senate Committee on Finance Majority Staff Report

TABLE OF CONTENTS
I. EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

II. INTRODUCTION

III. CONFLICTS OF INTEREST

IV. THE VICE PRESIDENT’S OFFICE AND STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIALS WERE
AWARE OF BUT IGNORED CONCERNS RELATING TO HUNTER BIDEN’S ROLE
ON BURISMA’S BOARD.

V. SECRETARY OF STATE JOHN KERRY FALSELY CLAIMED HE HAD NO
KNOWLEDGE ABOUT HUNTER BIDEN’S ROLE ON BURISMA’S BOARD.

VI. STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIALS VIEWED MYKOLA ZLOCHEVSKY AS A
CORRUPT, “ODIOUS OLIGARCH,” BUT VICE PRESIDENT BIDEN WAS
ADVISED NOT TO ACCUSE ZLOCHEVSKY OF CORRUPTION.

VII. WHILE HUNTER BIDEN SERVED ON BURISMA’S BOARD, BURISMA’S
OWNER, ZLOCHEVSKY, ALLEGEDLY PAID A $7 MILLION BRIBE TO
UKRAINE’S PROSECUTOR GENERAL’S OFFICE TO CLOSE THE CASE.

VIII. HUNTER BIDEN: A SECRET SERVICE PROTECTEE WHILE ON BURISMA’S
BOARD.

IX. OBAMA ADMINISTRATION OFFICIALS AND A DEMOCRAT LOBBYING FIRM
HAD CONSISTENT AND SIGNIFICANT CONTACT WITH FORMER UKRAINIAN
OFFICIAL ANDRII TELIZHENKO.

X. THE MINORITY FALSELY ACCUSED THE CHAIRMEN OF ENGAGING IN A
RUSSIAN DISINFORMATION CAMPAIGN AND USED OTHER TACTICS TO
INTERFERE IN THE INVESTIGATION.

XI. HUNTER BIDEN’S AND HIS FAMILY’S FINANCIAL TRANSACTIONS WITH
UKRAINIAN, RUSSIAN, KAZAKH AND CHINESE NATIONALS RAISE
CRIMINAL CONCERNS AND EXTORTION THREATS.

XII. CONCLUSION

I. EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

In late 2013 and into 2014, mass protests erupted in Kyiv, Ukraine, demanding integration into western economies and an end to systemic corruption that had plagued the country. At least 82 people were killed during the protests, which culminated on Feb. 21 when Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych abdicated by fleeing the country. Less than two months later, over the span of only 28 days, significant events involving the Bidens unfolded.

On April 16, 2014, Vice President Biden met with his son’s business partner, Devon Archer, at the White House. Five days later, Vice President Biden visited Ukraine, and he soon after was described in the press as the “public face of the administration’s handling of Ukraine.” The day after his visit, on April 22, Archer joined the board of Burisma. Six days later, on April 28, British officials seized $23 million from the London bank accounts of Burisma’s owner, Mykola Zlochevsky. Fourteen days later, on May 12, Hunter Biden joined the board of Burisma, and over the course of the next several years, Hunter Biden and Devon Archer were paid millions of dollars from a corrupt Ukrainian oligarch for their participation on the board.

The 2014 protests in Kyiv came to be known as the Revolution of Dignity — a revolution against corruption in Ukraine. Following that revolution, Ukrainian political figures were desperate for U.S. support. Zlochevsky would have made sure relevant Ukrainian officials were well aware of Hunter’s appointment to Burisma’s board as leverage. Hunter Biden’s position on the board created an immediate potential conflict of interest that would prove to be problematic for both U.S. and Ukrainian officials and would affect the implementation of Ukraine policy.

The Chairmen’s investigation into potential conflicts of interest began in August 2019, with Chairman Grassley’s letter to the Department of Treasury regarding potential conflicts of interest with respect to Obama administration policy relating to the Henniges transaction.1 During the Obama administration, the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) approved a transaction that gave control over Henniges, an American maker of antivibration technologies with military applications, to a Chinese government-owned aviation company and a China-based investment firm with established ties to the Chinese government. One of the companies involved in the Henniges transaction was a billion-dollar private investment fund called Bohai Harvest RST (BHR). BHR was formed in November 2013 by a merger between the Chinese-government-linked firm Bohai Capital and a company named Rosemont Seneca Partners. Rosemont Seneca was formed in 2009 by Hunter Biden, the son of then-Vice President Joe Biden, by Chris Heinz, the stepson of former Secretary of State John Kerry, and others.

Access to relevant documents and testimony has been persistently hampered by criminal investigations, impeachment proceedings, COVID-19, and several instances of obstructive behavior. Accordingly, this investigation has taken longer than it should have. The Chairmen’s efforts have always been driven by our belief that the public has the right to know about wrongdoing and conflicts of interest occurring within government, and especially those conflicts brought about by the actions of governmental officials. This is a good-government oversight investigation that relies on documents and testimony from U.S. agencies and officials, not a Russian disinformation campaign, as our Democratic colleagues have falsely stated.

What the Chairmen discovered during the course of this investigation is that the Obama administration knew that Hunter Biden’s position on Burisma’s board was problematic and did interfere in the efficient execution of policy with respect to Ukraine. Moreover, this investigation has illustrated the extent to which officials within the Obama administration ignored the glaring warning signs when the vice president’s son joined the board of a company owned by a corrupt Ukrainian oligarch. And, as will be discussed in later sections, Hunter Biden was not the only Biden who cashed in on Joe Biden’s vice presidency.

This report not only details examples of extensive and complex financial transactions involving the Bidens, it also describes the quandary other U.S. governmental officials faced as they attempted to guide and support Ukraine’s anticorruption efforts. The Committees will continue to evaluate the information and evidence as it becomes available

Key Findings

>> In early 2015 the former Acting Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv, Ukraine, George Kent, raised concerns to officials in Vice President Joe Biden’s office about the perception of a conflict of interest with respect to Hunter Biden’s role on

>> Burisma’s board. Kent’s concerns went unaddressed, and in September 2016, he emphasized in an email to his colleagues, “Furthermore, the presence of Hunter Biden on the Burisma board was very awkward for all U.S. officials pushing an anticorruption agenda in Ukraine.”

>> In October 2015, senior State Department official Amos Hochstein raised concerns with Vice President Biden, as well as with Hunter Biden, that Hunter Biden’s position on Burisma’s board enabled Russian disinformation efforts and risked undermining U.S. policy in Ukraine.

>> Although Kent believed that Hunter Biden’s role on Burisma’s board was awkward for all U.S. officials pushing an anti-corruption agenda in Ukraine, the Committees are only aware of two individuals — Kent and former U.S. Special Envoy and Coordinator for International Energy Affairs Amos Hochstein — who raised concerns to Vice President Joe Biden (Hochstein) or his staff (Kent).

>> The awkwardness for Obama administration officials continued well past his presidency. Former Secretary of State John Kerry had knowledge of Hunter Biden’s role on Burisma’s board, but when asked about it at a town hall event in Nashua, N.H. on Dec. 8, 2019, Kerry falsely said, “I had no knowledge about any of that. None. No.” Evidence to the contrary is detailed in Section V.

>> Former Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland testified that confronting oligarchs would send an anticorruption message in Ukraine. Kent told the Committees that Zlochevsky was an “odious oligarch.” However, in December 2015, instead of following U.S. objectives of confronting oligarchs, Vice President Biden’s staff advised him to avoid commenting on Zlochevsky and recommended he say, “I’m not going to get into naming names or accusing individuals.”

>> Hunter Biden was serving on Burisma’s board (supposedly consulting on corporate governance and transparency) when Zlochevsky allegedly paid a $7 million bribe to officials serving under Ukraine’s prosecutor general, Vitaly Yarema, to “shut the case against Zlochevsky.” Kent testified that this bribe occurred in December 2014 (seven months after Hunter joined Burisma’s board), and, after learning about it, he and the Resident Legal Advisor reported this allegation to the FBI.

>> Hunter Biden was a U.S. Secret Service protectee from Jan. 29, 2009 to July 8, 2014. A 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. Before ending his protective detail, Hunter Biden received Secret Service protection on trips to multiple foreign locations, including Moscow, Beijing, Doha, Paris, Seoul, Manila, Tokyo, Mexico City, Milan, Florence, Shanghai, Geneva, London, Dublin, Munich, Berlin, Bogota, Abu Dhabi, Nairobi, Hong Kong, Taipei, Buenos Aires, Copenhagen, Johannesburg, Brussels, Madrid, Mumbai and Lake Como.

>> Andrii Telizhenko, the Democrats’ personification of Russian disinformation, met with Obama administration officials, including Elisabeth Zentos, a member of Obama’s National Security Council, at least 10 times. A Democrat lobbying firm, Blue Star Strategies, contracted with Telizhenko from 2016 to 2017 and continued to request his assistance as recent as the summer of 2019. A recent news article detailed other extensive contacts between Telizhenko and Obama administration officials.

>> In addition to the over $4 million paid by Burisma for Hunter Biden’s and Archer’s board memberships, Hunter Biden, his family, and Archer received millions of dollars from foreign nationals with questionable backgrounds.

>> Hunter Biden received a $3.5 million wire transfer from Elena Baturina, the wife of the former mayor of Moscow.

>> Hunter Biden opened a bank account with Gongwen Dong to fund a $100,000 global spending spree with James Biden and Sara Biden.

>> Hunter Biden had business associations with Ye Jianming, Gongwen Dong, and other Chinese nationals linked to the Communist government and the People’s Liberation Army. Those associations resulted in millions of dollars in cash flow.

>> Hunter Biden paid nonresident women who were nationals of Russia or other Eastern European countries and who appear to be linked to an “Eastern European prostitution or human trafficking ring.”

II. INTRODUCTION

The Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs (HSGAC) and the Senate Committee on Finance undertook this investigation into potential conflicts of interest, and the involvement of the Biden family in foreign business ventures while Joe Biden was vice president, following allegations that the Obama administration’s Ukraine policy could have been affected by Hunter Biden’s position on the board of Burisma, and that family members may have improperly sought to benefit from their relationship with the vice president.

The first letter written regarding potential conflicts of interest was sent by Chairman Grassley on Aug. 14, 2019, relating to the Henniges transaction.3 That was an Obama-era Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) approved transaction which gave control over Henniges, an American maker of anti-vibration technologies with military applications, to a Chinese government-owned aviation company and a China-based investment firm with established ties to the communist Chinese government. One of the companies involved in the Henniges transaction was a billion-dollar private investment fund called Bohai Harvest RST (BHR). BHR was reportedly formed in November 2013 by a merger between the Chinese government-linked firm Bohai Capital and a U.S. company named Rosemont Seneca Partners. Rosemont Seneca Partners was reportedly formed in 2009 by Hunter Biden, the son of then-Vice President Joe Biden, by Chris Heinz, the stepson of former Secretary of State John Kerry, and by others.

The direct involvement of Hunter Biden and Heinz in the acquisition of Henniges by the Chinese government creates a potential conflict of interest. Both are directly related to highranking Obama administration officials. The Department of State, then under Mr. Kerry’s leadership, is also a CFIUS member and played a direct role in the decision to approve the Henniges transaction. The appearance of a potential conflict of interest in this case was particularly troubling given Hunter Biden’s history of investing in and collaborating with Chinese companies, including at least one that clearly poses significant national security concerns. This history with China precedes and follows the 2015 Henniges transaction. This report will discuss Hunter Biden’s and Devon Archer’s corporate entities and their links to the communist Chinese government in more detail.

In 2019, newly released documents, made public as a result of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests and investigative reporting, brought fresh public attention and scrutiny to potential conflicts of interest with respect to Ukraine policy in the Obama administration.

Additionally, news reporting also raised questions about potential conflicts of interest with respect to Hunter Biden’s business dealings in China, Ukraine and Russia while Joe Biden was serving as vice president.

Accordingly, on Nov. 6, 2019, Chairman Grassley and Chairman Johnson wrote a letter to the Department of State regarding potential conflicts of interest due to Hunter Biden’s position on the board of the corrupt Ukrainian gas company Burisma Holdings Limited while Vice President Biden was the “public face of the administration’s handling of Ukraine.”

The Committees’ investigation focused on determining whether Hunter Biden and Devon Archer sought to benefit financially from their relationship with then-Vice President Joe Biden or if they sought to influence U.S. policy in Ukraine on behalf of Burisma. Further, the Committees reviewed and evaluated the Obama administration’s handling of Ukraine policy to determine whether policy decisions related to Ukraine and Burisma were improperly influenced by the employment and financial interests of family members of the administration.

For example, after joining Burisma’s board, Biden and Archer subsequently requested meetings with senior State Department officials, including then-Secretary of State John Kerry and then-Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken. Further, a Democratic lobbying firm, Blue Star Strategies, working on behalf of Burisma, also invoked Hunter Biden’s association with Burisma while requesting a meeting with then-Under Secretary of State Catherine Novelli to discuss matters of concern related to the Department of State’s position that Burisma was a corrupt company.

In 2016, Ukraine’s top prosecutor, Viktor Shokin, had an active and ongoing investigation into Burisma and its owner, Mykola Zlochevsky.10 At the time, Archer and Hunter

Biden continued to serve on Burisma’s board of directors. According to news reports, then-Vice President Biden “threatened to withhold $1 billion in United States loan guarantees if Ukraine’s leaders did not dismiss [Shokin].” After that threat, Ukraine’s Parliament fired Shokin.

Pursuant to the scope of this investigation, the Committees requested relevant Obama administration records from several U.S. federal government agencies and interviewed current and former U.S. government officials with firsthand knowledge of the Obama administration’s handling of U.S. policy in Ukraine. The Committees sent requests for information to the Department of State, National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), U.S. Secret Service, Department of the Treasury, and the U.S. Democratic consulting firm Blue Star Strategies.12 Accordingly, this investigation is based on Obama administration federal government records and records from a Democrat lobby shop, Blue Star Strategies.

Senate Resolution 70 gives HSGAC express authority “to study or investigate… the efficiency and economy of operations of all branches of the government, including the possible existence of… corruption or unethical practices… [and] conflicts of interest.”13 The Committee on Finance has broad jurisdiction over the United States government and, specifically, the Department of Treasury and the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), which includes oversight jurisdiction over potential financial crimes.

III. CONFLICTS OF INTEREST

Federal regulation prohibits federal government employees from “us[ing] [] public office for [] private gain … or for the private gain of … relatives.”15 This regulation also seek “[t]o ensure that the performance of [] official duties does not give rise to an appearance of the use of public office for private gain or of giving preferential treatment[.]”16 This regulation, however, does not apply to the president or vice president.17

Other federal regulations require only the “consideration” of an appearance of a conflict of interest. “Where an employee … knows that a person with whom he has a covered relationship [e.g.,] is or represents a party to [a particular matter involving specific parties], and where the employee determines that the circumstances would cause a reasonable person with knowledge of the relevant facts to question his impartiality on the matter, the employee should not participate in the matter unless he has informed [a designated superior] and received authorization[.]”18

According to the Office of Government Ethics (OGE), these rules and regulations help to ensure that federal employees “fulfill[] their responsibility to endeavor to act at all times in the public’s interest and avoid losing impartiality or appearing to lose impartiality in carrying out their official duties.”19 In the context of U.S. foreign policy, the Foreign Affairs Manual (FAM) sets forth the policies and procedures for State Department employees working abroad. The FAM includes ethical regulations that take into account foreign policy considerations and treaty and statutory obligations.20 Specifically, when a U.S. citizen employee of the State Department21 is serving abroad and subject to the authority of that country’s Chief of Mission, that employee’s family members may be prohibited from employment or other outside activity in any foreign country if the Chief of Mission in that country determines it could damage the interests of the United States.22 The FAM also requires employees to bring any violations of the FAM or any other applicable regulations to the attention of the appropriate official.23

Although OGE’s authority to investigate and recommend solutions to most employees for conflicts of interest issues is well-established, Congress did not extend this authority to the president and vice president in OGE’s establishment statute. This does not mean there is an absence of any authority to hold the President and Vice President accountable for conflict of interest issues; rather, it demonstrates that the responsibility for holding the President and Vice President responsible for conduct that implicates conflicts of interest lies elsewhere, namely, with Congress and the American people.

In certain instances, like self-dealing, the harm is plain. In others, the harm — a loss or apparent loss of impartiality — may be less concrete, but the effect is still the same.24 When the impartiality of decision makers is drawn into question, it creates a chilling effect on the credibility of their decision-making processing and the ultimate decision. That, in turn, could undermine the effectiveness of U.S. policy. Although these consequences may sometimes be difficult to measure or quantify, they certainly have an effect, or else there would be little reason to regulate them in the first instance. In the context of foreign affairs, because these subtleties matter, the FAM provides the Chief of Mission with the discretion to make these assessments.

IV. THE VICE PRESIDENT’S OFFICE AND STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIALS
WERE AWARE OF BUT IGNORED CONCERNS RELATING TO HUNTER
BIDEN’S ROLE ON BURISMA’S BOARD.

a. Introduction

In early 2015, senior State Department official George Kent raised concerns to staff in the Office of the Vice President about Hunter Biden’s role on Burisma’s board. Kent testified that he never heard anything back from the vice president’s office, and although Kent advised that Hunter Biden should step down from Burisma’s board to avoid the perception of a potential conflict of interest, his recommendation was not followed.

Hunter Biden’s role on Burisma’s board continued to be an issue State Department officials had to manage when executing U.S. / Ukraine policy. More than a year after Kent reported his concerns to the vice president’s staff, he wrote to his superiors that Hunter Biden’s role on Burisma’s board was “very awkward” to those on the front lines pushing anticorruption efforts in Ukraine on a daily basis.25 Kent testified that he felt the need to “prepar[e] everybody for ‘what about-ism,’ because we’re pushing what’s right … and we have to be prepared for people who are critics, are opponents, to say, ‘Well, what about? What about Hunter Biden?’” 26 Indeed, Kent testified further that he “would have advised any American not to get on the board of Zlochevsky’s company.” 27 The Committees are also aware of at least one other senior State Department official, Amos Hochstein, who raised concerns directly to Vice President Biden about potential conflicts of interest relating to Hunter Biden’s role on Burisma’s board.28 Although Hochstein declined to testify about the substance of his conversation with Vice President Biden,29 the New Yorker reported that Hochstein “did not go so far as to recommend that Hunter leave the board.” 30 The Committees found that neither the Office of the Vice President nor the State Department ever took any action following these complaints.

b. In February 2015, Kent raised concerns about the perception of a conflict of interest
regarding Hunter Biden’s role on Burisma’s board.

According to Kent, in early 2015 when he was still Acting Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv, he learned that Hunter Biden was on the board of Burisma.31 Kent stated, “[s]oon after that, in a briefing call with the National Security staff in the Office of the Vice President on other matters, in February 2015, I raised my concern that Hunter Biden’s status as a board member could create the perception of a conflict of interest.”32 Kent continued:

I said that I had learned that Hunter Biden had been appointed to a board of this company, that I had just raised U.S. concerns about the owner of the company, who we believed had been engaged in money-laundering. …

[T]he bottom line was, I said I believe that this creates the perception of a potential conflict of interest, given Vice President Biden’s role and his very strong advocacy for anticorruption action, and that I thought that someone needed to talk to Hunter Biden, and he should [step] down from the board of Burisma. 33

When the Committees asked Kent who he spoke to in Vice President Biden’s office, he stated, “I can’t remember, to be perfectly honest. I don’t remember who I spoke to.” 34 Kent told the Committees that, after raising this concern, he never heard anything back from the vice president’s office.35>

c. Hunter Biden’s association with Burisma continued to be an “awkward” conflict of
interest State Department officials had to manage.

Hunter Biden’s association with Burisma appeared in numerous State Department records, particularly when State officials discussed the company, its owner, and anticorruption efforts in Ukraine. According to records reviewed by the Committees, in 2016, Kent mentioned Hunter Biden when discussing Burisma with his colleagues. Kent told the Committees:

For me it’s preparing everybody for “what about-ism,” because we’re pushing what’s right, and we do what’s right, and we have to be prepared for people who are critics, are opponents, to say, “Well, what about? What about Hunter Biden?”

So there was no time, as I’ve testified, that the U.S. government, the U.S. embassy ever made a decision about Zlochevsky or Burisma where we took the presence of a private citizen on the board into account. We made the decision on the merits. But others might think otherwise. And so everyone needed to be aware of what we were dealing with as we made the right decisions.36

The extent to which Hunter Biden’s role on Burisma’s board affected U.S. policy toward Ukraine is not clear. But what is clear from the records, however, is that State Department officials, particularly Kent himself, regularly considered how Hunter Biden’s connection to Burisma might affect the execution of U.S. policy. Moreover, as described previously, this included having to respond to Russian actors attempting to exploit Hunter Biden’s position on Burisma’s board to drive a wedge between Ukrainian and the U.S. in an effort to undermine U.S. policy toward Ukraine.

For example, Kent raised Hunter Biden’s connection to Burisma during multiple discussions over emails involving the Municipal Energy Reform Program (MERP).37 In those emails, Kent asked his colleagues, “[H]ow have we traditionally treated/engaged Burisma, given the Zlochevsky connection, but also perhaps US involvement beyond Hunter Biden?” 38 In another email chain, Kent also pointed out that “[Zlochevsky] put Hunter Biden on the board of his Burisma Energy company.”39 When inquiring about the extent to which State Department officials researched Burisma’s past, in order to determine whether to associate with the company, Kent asked his colleagues whether any ‘“know your partner’ due diligence was done” before the partnership between MERP and Burisma was established.40 Kent then described old news stories involving the company: “Zlochevsky as a corrupt mal actor was a 2014 story [and] his control of Burisma, and the very sticky wicket of the Hunter Biden connection on Burisma’s board was circulating in 2015.”41 As part of that same email chain, Kent asked his colleagues if the U.S. government continues its association with Burisma:

[W]ould we want an article on the front page of the Washington Post (and in this case, the Kyiv Post, and on the FB pages of Sergiy Leshchenko and Mustafa Nayyem) commenting about this public private partnership with Burisma, the link to Hunter Biden, and the link to Zlochevsky, who almost certainly paid off the PGO in December 2014 (I had the then First deputy PG Danylenko tell me the bribe was $7 million) to have the case against him closed and his $23 million in assets frozen in the UK unfrozen?42

So even though the total amount of time State Department officials spent accounting for Hunter Biden’s association with Burisma is unclear, the records show that it was an issue that had to be addressed repeatedly.

d. More than one year after Kent reported his concerns about Hunter Biden to the vice
president’s office, he once again raised the issue — this time to his superiors at the
State Department.

On Sept. 6, 2016, Kent wrote an email to senior State Department officials, including Deputy Assistant Secretary Bridget Brink and U.S. Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch, and offered his contemporaneous view of Hunter Biden’s association with Burisma. Kent wrote, “the presence of Hunter Biden on the Burisma board was very awkward for all U.S. officials pushing an anti-corruption agenda in Ukraine.”43 In testimony Kent expanded on this comment:

The Committees learned, through document requests, that Victoria Nuland, thenAssistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, also received a forwarded copy of Kent’s September 2016 email outlining his concerns about Hunter Biden being on Burisma’s board. Nuland testified that she “was always open to hearing the concerns of subordinates and trying to address them in an open and transparent manner.”45 Yet when the Committee asked Nuland to explain what actions she took when she received Kent’s email, she said that Kent’s concerns about Hunter Biden were “clearly, way deep down in an email, late in 2016” and “they were not brought to my specific attention by George Kent, who is an old friend and had plenty of opportunity to do so, had he so wanted.”46 Despite senior State Department officials clearly being made aware of the situation, Kent’s concerns remained unaddressed.

e. Hochstein spoke to Vice President Biden about concerns relating to Hunter Biden’s
role on Burisma’s board because, according to Hochstein, Russians were using it to
advance disinformation.

According to testimony and public reports, Hochstein, then-U.S. Special Envoy and Coordinator for International Energy Affairs, raised concerns about Hunter Biden’s role on Burisma’s board directly to Vice President Biden. Nuland told the Committees:

Amos Hochstein had had a conversation with the vice president and his staff about this, and he also had another conversation on the plane ride to Ukraine for that December 2015 trip.47

Public reporting also confirms Hochstein’s discussion with Vice President Biden. According to one report, “Amos Hochstein, the Obama Administration’s special envoy for energy policy, raised the matter with Biden, but did not go so far as to recommend that Hunter leave the board.”48 When Hochstein testified before the Committees, he declined on advice of counsel to testify about the substance of his conversation with Vice President Biden. 49 The New Yorker, however, reported that Hochstein “did not go so far as to recommend that Hunter leave the board.”50 It is unclear how Vice President Biden responded to this conversation.

According to Hochstein, he raised this issue with Vice President Biden because he was concerned that the Russians were using Hunter Biden’s role with Burisma to sow disinformation.51 Hochstein recounted that he spoke with Vice President Biden in the West Wing of the White House in October 2015.52 When asked why he decided to raise the issue of Hunter Biden’s position on Burisma’s board with Vice President Biden, Hochstein testified:

Hochstein: We were starting to think about a trip to Ukraine, and I wanted to make sure that he [Vice President Biden] was aware that there was an increase in chatter on media outlets close to Russians and corrupt oligarchs-owned media outlets about undermining his message—to try to undermine his [Vice President Biden’s] message and including Hunter Biden being part of the board of Burisma. 53

Hochstein also raised his concerns about Russian disinformation with Hunter Biden. Shortly after his conversation with Vice President Biden, Hunter Biden contacted Hochstein and asked to meet. According to Hochstein, Hunter became aware of Hochstein’s West Wing conversation with the Vice President, who had mentioned it to Hunter. 54 Hochstein described what he and Hunter Biden discussed at this November 2015 meeting at a coffee shop in Georgetown:55

Question: And could you expand on that? Why did you discuss Burisma with him [Hunter Biden]?

Hochstein: Well, he [Hunter Biden] asked me for a meeting. I think he wanted to know my views on Burisma and Zlochevsky. And so I shared with him that the Russians were using his name in order to sow disinformation—attempt to sow disinformation among Ukrainians. 56

During the November 2015 conversation with Hunter Biden, Hochstein did not recommend that Hunter leave Burisma’s board because he did not “believe that was my place to have that discussion, one way or the other.”57

f. Conclusion

Hunter Biden’s role on Burisma’s board hindered the efforts of dedicated career-service individuals who were fighting for anticorruption measures in Ukraine. Because the vice president’s son had a direct link to a corrupt company and its owner, State Department officials were required to maintain situational awareness of Hunter Biden’s association with Burisma. Unfortunately, U.S. officials had no other choice but to endure the “awkward[ness]” of continuing to push an anticorruption agenda in Ukraine while the vice president’s son sat on the board of a Ukrainian company with a corrupt owner, earning tens of thousands of dollars a month. As Kent testified, he “would have advised any American not to get on the board of Zlochevsky’s company.” 58 Yet even though Hunter Biden’s position on Burisma’s board cast a shadow over the work of those advancing anticorruption reforms in Ukraine, the Committees are only aware of two individuals who raised concerns to their superiors. Despite the efforts of these individuals, their concerns appear to have fallen on deaf ears.

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