- Hunter Biden joined Burisma board while VP Biden was point person on Ukraine
- Hunter Biden admitted discussing Burisma job with father
- Burisma investigation was ongoing amidst Biden involvement in Ukraine
Amid its relevancy in President Trump’s impeachment inquiry, best-selling author Peter Schweizer discusses the details surrounding the Biden family and their dealings with the Ukrainian government.
Amid the impeachment inquiry, the Bidens are pushing back on our Ukraine reporting. Find out the truth: next.
Hi, I’m Peter Schweizer, and this is the Drill Down. Where we Drill Down on key figures in the federal government.
In late September, Nancy Pelosi announced an official impeachment inquiry over President Trump’s phone call with the newly elected Ukrainian president. Whether House Democrats choose to move on with official impeachment proceedings, the underlying questions about the Biden family’s involvement in Ukraine persist.
In a previous Drill Down, we detailed how, in April of 2014, and while Vice President Biden was point person for US policy towards Ukraine, Joe Biden’s son Hunter joined the board of Ukrainian energy company Burisma. Despite having little experience in energy, Hunter was paid as much as $83,000 a month for his work. According to bank records we obtained, Burisma would pay $3.1 million dollars to a bank account associated with Hunter’s businesses over a 16-month period.
That Hunter Biden joined the board of an energy company that was under legal scrutiny at the time is important. At just that time, Hunter’s father, Vice President Biden, was the point person for US government in dealings with Ukraine, and in that role helped shape Ukraine’s energy and anti-corruption policies – both of which directly impacted Burisma.
At a campaign stop last month, Joe Biden claimed to have an “absolute wall” between him and his family’s businesses, saying, and Iquote, “I never talked with my son or my brother or anyone else — even distant family — about their business interests. Period.”[i]
Biden’s “absolute wall” clearly has holes. In an interview with the New Yorker earlier this year, Hunter recalled discussing his work at Burisma with his father on at least one occasion.[ii] Devon Archer, Hunter’s longtime business partner and fellow Burisma director, also met privately with Joe Biden at the White House hours after his first receiving payment from Burisma.
While in office, Vice President Biden was certainly aware of Hunter’s role at Burisma because his office was specifically asked in 2014 about the potential conflict of interest. A spokesperson for Vice President’s office defended Hunter’s right to do business in Ukraine as “a private citizen and a lawyer.”[iii] Apparently, the potential conflict of interest wasn’t sufficient reason to reign Hunter in. In fact, the younger Biden didn’t step down from the Burisma board until earlier this year, in 2019, when the questions surrounding the arrangement began to resurface.[iv]
But Joe Biden’s claim about a “absolute wall” between him and his son’s business dealings isn’t the only claim made by Biden and his allies that doesn’t quite hold up to scrutiny.
The Biden team also claims that the Ukrainian investigation into Burisma didn’t represent a conflict of interest for the then-Vice President.[v] But that’s not quite right either.
Remember that Burisma began paying Hunter Biden as a legal advisor after British authorities opened a corruption investigation into the company’s owner.[vi]Shortly afterward, Ukrainian authorities launched an investigation of their own. Some, such as the Washington Post’s fact checker, have repeated the claim that the Burisma investigation had been “shelved” by late 2015, when Joe Biden called for the prosecutor in the case to be fired.[vii]
But according to Burisma’s own attorneys, the case was not formally closed until September of 2016, months after the prosecutor was fired.[viii] Others, such as Transparency International, say the matter remained open until November of 2016.[ix] The truth is the investigation continued for years after Hunter was hired, all while Joe Biden played an active role in Ukraine’s anticorruption policy.
And it isn’t as if others haven’t noted the problems here.
Long before Burisma emerged as a campaign issue, I published Secret Empires, which detailed the extent of Biden’s corruption in Ukraine. Prior to that, many of the same outlets now dismissing the case had been critical of Hunter’s work. Reporters from the New York Times[x], Washington Post[xi], and Wall Street Journal[xii] all wrote critically of Hunter’s new job back in 2014.
Now, some of those same writers are accusing those currently covering Burisma of conducting a partisan smear.[xiii] But the basic facts of the story remain the same. The only thing that’s changed, sadly, are the politics surrounding them.
I’m Peter Schweizer, and this is the Drill Down.
For more episodes, find us on social media, or visit thedrilldowntv.com
- Mark Caputo and Ben Schreckinger, “Biden Pledges ‘Absolute Wall’ to Separate Relatives’ Business Dealings,” Politico, August 28, 2019, https://www.politico.com/story/2019/08/28/biden-brother-business-2020-1476815.
- Adam Entous, “Will Hunter Biden Jeopardize His Father’s Campaign?” New Yorker, July 1, 2019, https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2019/07/08/will-hunter-biden-jeopardize-his-fathers-campaign.
- Stephen Braun, “Ukrainian Energy Firm Hires Biden Son as Lawyer,” Associated Press, June 8, 2014, https://www.apnews.com/c49555d51eb243e09a42f7577fc5937f.
- Paul Sonne, Michael Kranish, and Matt Viser, “The Gas Tycoon and the Vice President’s Son: The Story of Hunter Biden’s Foray into Ukraine,” Washington Post, September 28, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/the-gas-tycoon-and-the-vice-presidents-son-the-story-of-hunter-bidens-foray-in-ukraine/2019/09/28/1aadff70-dfd9-11e9-8fd3-d943b4ed57e0_story.html.
- Kenneth P. Vogel and Iuliia Mendel, “Biden Faces Conflict of Interest Questions That Are Being Promoted by Trump and Allies,” New York Times, May 1, 2019, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/01/us/politics/biden-son-ukraine.html.
- Sonne, Kranish, and Viser, “The Gas Tycoon and the Vice President’s Son: The Story of Hunter Biden’s Foray into Ukraine.”
- Glenn Kessler and Salvador Rizzo, “Fact-checking Trump’s Latest Claims on Biden and Ukraine,” Washington Post, September 23, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2019/09/23/fact-checking-trumps-latest-claims-biden-ukraine/.
- Burisma Group, “John Buretta: For Us It Was Important to Close All Cases Against Burisma and Nikolay Zlochevskyi in a Legally Sound Manner,” Kyiv Post, February 1, 2017, https://www.kyivpost.com/business-wire/john-buretta-us-important-close-casesagainst-burisma-nikolayzlochevskyiin-legally-sound-manner.html.
- “Notes for Editors,” transparency.org, press release, https://www.transparency.org/files/content/pressrelease/Notes_for_editors.pdf.
- James Risen, “Joe Biden, His Son and the Case Against a Ukrainian Oligarch,” New York Times, December 8, 2015, https://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/09/world/europe/corruption-ukraine-joe-biden-son-hunter-biden-ties.html.
- Adam Taylor, “Hunter Biden’s New Job at a Ukrainian Gas Company Is a Problem for U.S. Soft Power,” Washington Post, May 14, 2014, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2014/05/14/hunter-bidens-new-job-at-a-ukrainian-gas-company-is-a-problem-for-u-s-soft-power/.
- Paul Sonne and Laura Mills, “Ukrainians See Conflict in Biden’s Anticorruption Message,” Wall Street Journal, December 7, 2015, https://www.wsj.com/articles/ukrainians-see-conflict-in-bidens-anticorruption-message-1449523458.
- James Risen, “I Wrote About the Bidens and Ukraine Years Ago. Then the Right-Wing Spin Machine Turned the Story Upside Down.,” Intercept, September 25, 2019, https://theintercept.com/2019/09/25/i-wrote-about-the-bidens-and-ukraine-years-ago-then-the-right-wing-spin-machine-turned-the-story-upside-down/.