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EXCLUSIVE: The top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee on Thursday requested that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo release all documents related to the Ukrainian natural gas firm Burisma Holdings, where Hunter Biden sat on the board, after emails indicated that the former ambassador to the country may have known more about the firm than she acknowledged during Trump impeachment proceedings.
Jordan, R-Ohio, in a letter to Pompeo obtained by Fox News, said that new documents released in a Freedom of Information Act this week “appear to shed new light on the actions of State Department employees during the Obama-Biden Administration in relation to the corrupt Ukrainian energy company, Burisma Holdings, and its founder, Mykola Zlochevsky.”
Burisma Holdings was at the center of impeachment proceedings against President Trump, after he pressed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky during a phone call to look into the Biden family’s dealings in Ukraine. Former Vice President Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, held a lucrative position on the board of Burisma Holdings.
In his letter, Jordan called Burisma “notoriously corrupt,” referencing its founder’s move to allow the firm to “receive mineral licenses without public auction, and noted that former Vice President Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden—along with former Secretary of State John Kerry’s step-son, Christopher Heinz, and Devon Archer” sat on the board.
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“Hunter Biden joined Burisma’s board at the same time his father, Vice President Joe Biden, was responsible for the United States’s diplomatic efforts with Ukraine,” Jordan wrote.
But Jordan referenced State Department emails which were obtained by the conservative group Citizens United this week through a FOIA request, and indicated that former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, was involved in discussions about Burisma Holdings and even met with a company representative, despite testifying to Congress during the impeachment inquiry that she knew little about the firm.
“When asked about her awareness of the criminal investigation into Burisma, Ambassador Yovanovitch testified that she did not know very much about the subject and that ‘Burisma wasn’t a big issue’ when she arrived in Kyiv,” Jordan wrote, referencing the new memos and communications.
The organization obtained more than 160 pages of emails and memos sent during the fall of 2016, including communications between Yovanovitch and U.S. Embassy officials about Burisma Holdings and documents indicating that she met with a representative of the firm at the embassy in December 2016.
“Burisma wasn’t a big issue in the fall … of 2016, when I arrived,” Yovanovitch said during testimony in the fall of 2019, noting that the investigation and details surrounding its closure “happened before I arrived.”
"It was not a focus of what I was doing in that six-month period," she said.
But in September 2016, Yovanovitch received a letter from Burisma’s American lawyers, John Buretta of Cravath, Swaine and Moore law firm based in New York, alerting her that prosecutor Yuriy Lutsenko’s office was dropping a corruption investigation related to Burisma without filing charges. Buretta also called allegations against the firm’s founder “baseless.”
“We respectfully request that Your Excellency take into consideration these objective facts when considering the narrative promoted by some, and no doubt to be repeated again, in disregard of the facts and the law and the decisions by courts,” Buretta wrote the ambassador.
Yovanovitch appeared to forward the email to deputy assistant secretary of state for Europe and Eastern Europe George Kent, who then arranged a briefing for her to discuss the issues. Kent, before the briefing, wrote to colleagues the topics he hoped to discuss, which included “[Burisma founder Mykola] Zlochevsky/Burisma - asset recovery and past crimes of the Yanu regime as they intersect U.S. corporate/individual interest.”
In another email, Kent wrote to Yovanovitch that the briefing was “further to the Blue Star effort to rehabilitate the reputation of their non-client in the US, former ministry of ecologies Zlochevsky, who clearly has retained the services of a blue-chip law firm and his energy company Burisma, which in turn has Hunter Biden on its board.
Yovanovitch was herself a key figure in impeachment proceedings, recalling how she was ousted from her post and allegedly targeted by Trump allies — some of whom have argued that the concerns about Burisma and the Biden connection were legitimate for the president to press Ukraine on. Trump's move to withhold U.S. aid during that period, though, is what catapulted the controversy into impeachment territory — with the president ultimately impeached by the House and then acquitted by the Senate.
Burisma's founder, former minister of ecologies Mykola Zlochevsky, had been under investigation in Ukraine. The Obama administration pushed for the prosecutor investigating Zlochevsky, Viktor Shokin, to be removed from his post. Shokin was fired in April 2016 and the case was closed by the prosecutor who replaced him, Lutsenko. Joe Biden once boasted on camera that when he was vice president he successfully pressured Ukraine to fire Shokin.
Biden allies, though, maintain that his intervention had nothing to do with his son, but was rather tied to the administration’s concerns of corruption in Ukraine. At the time, as vice president to former President Obama, Biden was running U.S.-Ukraine policy and anti-corruption campaigns.
Meanwhile, another document appeared to be a briefing memo to prepare Yovanovitch for a meeting on Dec. 8, 2016, inside the U.S. Embassy with Burisma representative Karen Tramontano.
“An Atlantic Council member and Washington veteran, Tramontano informally represents Mykola Zlochevsky, the Burisma CEO, who has long been the target of law enforcement proceedings in Ukraine,” the memo stated, adding that Zlochevsky’s “official US representatives sent a letter in September ... asking that the embassy reconsider its position on him.”
Yovanovitch did not make mention of meeting with Burisma representatives during her testimony.
Fox News has reached out to Yovanovitch's attorneys with a request for comment.
Meanwhile, Jordan also cited reports which suggested that State Department documents show that the alleged “whistleblower” whose complaint started the impeachment inquiry against President Trump “played a role in facilitating the Obama-Biden Administration’s interactions with the Ukrainian government relating to Burisma and Hunter Biden.”
“In light of this new information, and in order to better understand any previous barriers to our ability to cooperate with international law enforcement efforts related to Burisma, I respectfully request the following material,” Jordan wrote to Pompeo.
Jordan requested “unredacted copies of all documents released” in the FOIA relating to “Burisma Holdings Mykola Zlochevsky, or Hunter Biden,” as well as any documents and emails referring to Burisma between January 2014 and January 20, 2017—Trump’s inauguration.
Jordan also requested documents and communications “referring to or relating to Hunter Biden, Christopher Heinz or Devon Archer for the period January 1, 2014, to January 20, 2017.”
“Please provide this information as soon as possible, but no later than 5:00 p.m. on May 28, 2020,” Jordan wrote, thanking Pompeo for his “attention to this matter.”
The letter was sent to the State Department on Thursday afternoon.
Meanwhile, in Ukraine, the Burisma investigation isn't entirely closed. In October 2019, Ukraine’s current prosecutor general, Ruslan Ryaboshapka, said at a news conference that his office was instructed to review cases that have been closed to make sure they were fairly and thoroughly handled — including the probe into Burisma. That announcement did not mean that Ukraine was opening a new investigation into Burisma or the Bidens.
During his testimony last year, deputy Kent said that he raised concerns with Biden's office in 2015 that Hunter Biden’s role on the board of Burisma could present “the possibility of the perception of a conflict of interest.”
Kent also testified during the impeachment hearings that he would “love” to see Ukraine look into the circumstances surrounding the closure of the probe tied to Burisma.