A newly declassified memo indicated that US diplomats in Ukraine warned then-Vice President Joe Biden‘s office about the evidence of corruption surrounding Burisma founder Mykola Zlochevsky in late December 2015.
“The short unclas version (in non lawyer language) is that US and UK were cooperating on a case to seize his corrupt assets overseas (which had passed through the US),” he continued. “The case fell apart when individuals in the PGO [the Ukrainian prosecutor-general’s office] acted to thwart the UK case.”
Biden’s son, Hunter, had been named to the board of Burisma roughly a year and a half before, in April 2014.
He remained on the board until April 2019, when political pressure from the Trump administration forced him to step down as his father launched a presidential bid.
Shortly after Hunter’s appointment, the country’s corrupt prosecutor general was bribed to ignore the case, but under pressure was replaced in early 2015 with a prosecutor who was more committed to the probe.
The memo in question preceded a visit by Biden in December 2015, during which Biden may have pressured the Petro Poroshenko administration to fire the prosecutor who was investigating Burisma.
The memo suggests that the State Department was supporting Biden’s effort to cover for Hunter, although some top officials, such as diplomat George Kent, had relayed their concerns privately that his presence posed a conflict of interest and undermined foreign policy.
According to other released documents, including evidence from Hunter’s own laptop, Joe Biden likely met with a top-level Burisma representative in the spring of 2019.
But the memo contains talking points oft-repeated by Biden that his son was a “private citizen” and that the business relationship had no bearing on US foreign policy.
Hunter finally acknowledged last week that he had been made aware of a two-year investigation involving his Burisma work, including what appears to be an effort to conceal some $400,000 in profits on his 2014 taxes.
Despite quietly embracing the corrupt energy company that was paying Hunter a million dollars a year, Biden’s talking points, which would remain the same in the years to follow, insisted that efforts to fire the prosecutor investigating Burisma were, themselves, anti-corruption measures.
“Important strides have been made—the appointment of a Special Anti-Corruption Prosecutor and the establishment of an independent Inspector General to prosecute corrupt prosecutors are two good ones,” said the talking points, only four months before prosecutor-general Viktor Shokin was to be fired at the behest of Biden.
“But much more needs to be done and we will continue to encourage everyone involved to commit to meaningful reforms,” it said.
In a 2019 visit with the Council on Foreign Relations, Biden boasted of pressing the government to fire Shokin by threatening to withhold a billion-dollar loan guarantee—setting up a quid-pro-quo situation that greatly paralleled what Democrats accused President Donald Trump of doing when he pressed Ukrainian officials to re-open the probe.