by WorldTribune Staff, November 5, 2019
Burisma Holdings, the Ukrainian energy firm which employed Hunter Biden, was in contact with Obama administration officials one month before then-Vice President Joe Biden convinced Ukraine to fire the prosecutor investigating Burisma for corruption, a report said.
In February 2016, a U.S. representative for Burisma sought a meeting with Undersecretary of State Catherine A. Novelli to discuss ending the corruption allegations against the Ukrainian firm where Hunter Biden worked as a board member, according to memos obtained by investigative reporter John Solomon in a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit.
Hunter Biden’s name “was specifically invoked by the Burisma representative as a reason the State Department should help, according to a series of email exchanges among U.S. officials trying to arrange the meeting,” Solomon reported.
Solomon’s dogged reporting for the Fox News Hannity show on the 3-year, non-stop anti-Trump crusade by the U.S. intelligence community was singled out for praise last night by Rep. Devin Nunes, California Republican and ranking member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.
“The common theme from the bureaucrats that are targeting the president” is “they don’t like John Solomon’s reporting on your show,” Nunes told Hannity.
According to Solomon’s Nov. 4 report: “Just three weeks before Burisma’s overture to State, Ukrainian authorities raided the home of the oligarch who owned the gas firm and employed Hunter Biden, a signal the long-running corruption probe was escalating in the middle of the U.S. presidential election.”
A Feb. 24, 2016 email between State Department officials read: “Per our conversation, Karen Tramontano of Blue Star Strategies requested a meeting to discuss with U/S Novelli USG remarks alleging Burisma (Ukrainian energy company) of corruption. She noted that two high profile U.S. citizens are affiliated with the company (including Hunter Biden as a board member).”
The email continued: “Tramontano would like to talk with U/S Novelli about getting a better understanding of how the U.S. came to the determination that the company is corrupt. According to Tramontano there is no evidence of corruption, has been no hearing or process, and evidence to the contrary has not been considered.”
Solomon noted that, at the time, Novelli was the most senior official overseeing international energy issues at the Obama State Department. The undersecretary position, of which there are several, is the third-highest-ranking job at State, behind the secretary and deputy secretary.
Tramontano was a lawyer working for Blue Star Strategies, a Washington firm that was hired by Burisma to help end a long-running corruption investigation against the gas firm in Ukraine.
“Tramontano and another Blue Star official, Sally Painter, both alumni of Bill Clinton’s administration, worked with New York-based criminal defense attorney John Buretta to settle the Ukraine cases in late 2016 and 2017,” Solomon wrote.
Burisma Holdings records obtained by Ukrainian prosecutors state the gas firm made a $60,000 payment to Blue Star in November 2015.
The emails show Tramontano was scheduled to meet Novelli on March 1, 2016, and that State Department officials were scrambling to get answers ahead of time from the U.S. embassy in Kiev.
The records don’t show whether the meeting actually took place. The FOIA lawsuit is ongoing and State officials are slated to produce additional records in the months ahead, Solomon noted.
“But the records do indicate that Hunter Biden’s fellow American board member at Burisma, Devon Archer, secured a meeting on March 2, 2016 with Secretary of State John Kerry,” Solomon wrote. “In addition to serving on the Burisma board, Archer and Hunter Biden were partners at an American firm known as Rosemont Seneca.”
An email from Kerry’s office manager reads: “Devon Archer coming to see S today at 3pm – need someone to meet/greet him at C Street.” The “S” is a shorthand frequently used in State emails to describe the Secretary of State. The memos don’t state the reason for the meeting.
In an interview with ABC News last month, Hunter Biden said he believed he had done “nothing wrong at all” while working with Burisma but “was it poor judgment to be in the middle of something that is…a swamp in — in — in many ways? Yeah.”
Solomon noted: “Whatever the subject of the Archer-Kerry meeting, its existence is certain to spark interest. That’s because Secretary Kerry’s stepson, Christopher Heinz, had been a business partner with both Archer and Hunter Biden at the Rosemont Seneca investment firm in the United States.”
By his own admission in a 2018 speech, Joe Biden used the threat of withholding $1 billion in U.S. aid to strong-arm Ukraine into firing then-Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin, who the vice president knew was investigating Burisma.
Biden has said he forced Shokin’s firing because he and Western allies believed the prosecutor wasn’t aggressive enough in fighting corruption.
Shokin told Solomon, and ABC News, that he was fired specifically because he would not stand down from investigating Burisma. In fact, Shokin alleges, he was making plans to interview Hunter Biden about his Burisma work and payments when he was fired.
“The new evidence of contacts between Burisma, Hunter Biden and Archer at State are certain to add a new layer of intrigue to the debate. Those contacts span back to at least spring 2015, the new memos show,” Solomon wrote.