by Steven Richards
On the heels of the long-awaited report by Justice Department special counsel Robert Hur on the possession and potential mishandling of classified documents by President Joe Biden, several of the memos cited in the report that were found in Biden’s possession are eliciting questions from Congress about why Biden retained those documents related specifically to countries where his son was conducting his foreign business dealings. The House Oversight Committee has demanded that the Department of Justice provide them access to the classified documents uncovered by the special counsel’s investigation.
“The Justice Department must provide Congress with access to Joe Biden’s stashed classified documents to determine if they were used to help the Bidens’ influence peddling schemes,” the committee said Friday in a post on X.
“Now that the investigation is over and the Special Counsel’s report reveals Joe Biden kept classified materials related to Ukraine and China, two countries where the Bidens made millions, the Department of Justice must provide Congress with unfettered access to these documents,” the committee added.
A review of documents uncovered by Hur’s investigation and emails recovered from Hunter Biden’s abandoned laptop raise questions about how Joe Biden’s official actions coincided with key initiatives by Burisma while his son served as a board member at the company.
In one binder, the special counsel’s investigators found a confidential document titled “U.S. Energy Assistance to Ukraine,” marked as a memorandum for the Vice President from his staff and dated September 17, 2014.
Earlier that year, in April 2014, Hunter Biden officially joined the board of Burisma Holdings. Hunter Biden, although having no experience in the petroleum industry, collected a $1 million yearly salary.
At the time, in the aftermath of the “Revolution of Dignity” — also known as the “Maidan Revolution” —the Obama-Biden Administration was focused on propping up Ukraine’s new, pro-Western government with economic and security assistance.
One of the key policies involved improving Ukraine’s energy security, according to a readout of an April 2014 call Vice President Biden had with new Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk. President Obama had appointed Hunter’s father as his point person to manage the administration’s Ukraine policy.
By the end of April 2014, Vice President Biden visited Ukraine and promised U.S. assistance to “boost energy efficiency” and “production in Ukrainian natural gas fields” according to a Reuters report of the trip. At the time Hunter Biden joined the board, Burisma was Ukraine’s largest private gas producer.
According to emails from Hunter Biden’s laptop, Burisma was keenly interested in taking advantage of U.S. policy to promote energy independence in Ukraine, specifically a program spearheaded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) called the Municipal Energy Reform Project for Ukraine. The goal of MERP, as it was known, was to “enhance Ukraine’s energy security.”
Vadim Pozharskyi, a senior Burisma official who worked closely with Hunter Biden, traveled to Washington in October 2014 and returned to Ukraine with good news for the board and its team of lobbyists and consultants.
“I would like to let you know that following my working visit to Washington DC, our Company has started cooperation with the USAID Municipal Energy Reform Project in Ukraine which aims to promote energy effieciency [sic] and decrease Ukraine’s energy dependence,” Pozharskyi wrote. Hunter Biden was copied on the email along with other board members.
“Thank you all for being a part of our effort,” he told the board and its team of lobbyists and consultants.
“David [Leiter] and I just wanted to circle back to let you know that we have shared the press release on Burisma’s partnership with USAID with all of the U.S. Government officials we met with in July,” an ML Strategies employee wrote back, revealing that Leiter had been active lobbying for Burisma that summer.
Burisma’s participation in the USAID program would later cause consternation among the staff of the U.S. embassy in Ukraine, specifically the number two official George Kent who argued that USAID should suspend its cooperation with the company in light of the corruption allegations against its founder Mykola Zlochevsky, Just the News reported in 2020.
Other documents uncovered by Hur’s investigation include talking points and a telephone call transcript with the Ukrainian prime minister, hailing from a key period in Hunter Biden’s tenure on the board of Burisma.
In a folder marked “VP Personal” DOJ investigators found two documents relating to a December 11, 2015 call between then-Vice President Biden and then Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk. The first document was a set of talking points and briefing materials on Biden’s upcoming call with the PM. The second was a full transcript of the call, which Biden had specifically requested for his personal records, Just the News reported on Thursday.
December 2015 was a pivotal month in Hunter Biden’s Burisma tenure and in U.S. Ukraine policy.
Last year, Just the News uncovered documents showing that in late 2015, Joe Biden unilaterally changed official U.S. policy by linking a $1 billion loan guarantee to the Ukrainian government with a requirement to fire Ukrainian Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin, who was investigating Burisma for corruption at the time, a fact that caused worry among the Burisma board members and spurred Hunter Biden’s efforts to retain a U.S. lobbying firm to close the investigation.
In October, a Ukraine task force made up of State, Treasury and Justice Department officials concluded that Ukraine had made “sufficient progress” on its anti-corruption and economic reforms to justify the loan guarantee, memos obtained by Just the News showed.
Internal memos for then-Vice President Biden’s upcoming trip to Ukraine dated Nov. 22, 2015 urged the vice president to offer the $1 billion loan guarantee during his trip, citing Kyiv’s progress. Yet, by the time Biden arrived in Kyiv on Dec. 8, 2015, he had decided to link the loan guarantee to Shokin’s ouster.
The Washington Post, spurred by Just the News’ reporting, found that the Vice President “called an audible” aboard Air Force Two on his way to Kyiv, citing interviews with former Obama Administration officials. This all but confirmed that Joe Biden was instrumental in linking Shokin’s firing to the loan guarantee.
Previously, Kessler – lead fact-checker at the Post – said that Biden was “simply carrying out U.S. policy developed by the State Department” and the European Union and “operated independently of his son’s efforts to engage a PR firm to burnish Zlochevsky’s image.”
Before his father’s trip, Hunter Biden worked to help Burisma retain Blue Star Strategies – a Democratic party connected government relations firm – to improve Burisma’s public image in Ukraine and with U.S. officials at the embassy in Kyiv. In an email from Hunter Biden’s laptop, Pozharskyi described the reason for hiring Blue Star: “to close down for [sic] any cases/pursuits” against Burisma’s founder.
Last year, Devon Archer—a former business partner of Hunter Biden’s and fellow Burisma board member—testified to Congress that in the first week of December 2015, both Pozharskyi and Burisma owner Zlochevsky asked Hunter Biden to “call D.C.” during a board meeting in Dubai because of the pressure being exerted on the company by Ukrainian authorities. Then-Vice President Biden’s call to Yatsenyuk came just days after this reported call that Hunter made the call to Washington, which Archer testified was to his father.
The White House declined to respond to a request for comment from Just the News.
On Friday, the spokesperson for the White House Counsel’s Office, Ian Sams, attacked special counsel Hur’s report into Biden’s handling of classified documents in a wide-ranging press conference. “When the inevitable conclusion is that the facts and the evidence don’t support any charges, you’re left to wonder why this report spends time making gratuitous and inappropriate criticisms of the president,” Sams told reporters, referring to the report’s emphasis on Biden’s ongoing memory issues.
Earlier in the day, Vice President Kamala Harris also criticized the report as politically motivated.
“So the way the president’s demeanor in that report was characterized could not be more wrong on the facts, and clearly politically motivated,” Harris reportedly said. “And so…