By Zachary Stieber
Top Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives announced on Nov. 29 that they’re seeking interviews with executives at Blue Star Strategies, a lobbying company connected to President Joe Biden’s son Hunter Biden.
Reps. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and James Comer (R-Ky.) said they’ve obtained evidence suggesting the company “was involved in the arrangement between Hunter Biden and Burisma.”
Burisma Holdings, a Ukrainian-based energy company, hired Blue Star in 2015 at the behest of Mr. Biden, when President Biden was the U.S. vice president. Blue Star is run by Sally Painter and Karen Tramontano, former officials in the Clinton administration.
House Republicans are probing Mr. Biden’s business dealings as part of an impeachment inquiry into President Biden, including actions taken to prevent an investigation by Ukraine’s top prosecutor, Viktor Shokin, into Burisma.
President Biden has bragged that in early 2016, he forced the ouster of Mr. Shokin by threatening to withhold a loan guarantee if he were not fired.
Documents show that soon after, Blue Star approached the interim successor to Mr. Shokin and met with him in Ukraine, according to documents obtained by The Hill. Shortly after, the interim prosecutor was replaced by an official whom President Biden supported.
Possible ‘Foreign Agent’ Violations
Emails that Republicans have obtained show that Burisma hired Blue Star to “close down” any investigations into Nikolay Zlochevsky, Burisma’s founder and owner. Republicans said in new letters to Ms. Painter and Ms. Tramontano that they’ve also learned that Blue Star “leveraged Hunter Biden’s name and association with Burisma to procure meetings with senior State Department officials to improve Burisma’s image within the State Department.”
For example, the Blue Star leaders met in 2015 with State Department official Amos Hochstein to question him about his position on Burisma and later met with another department official on the matter, reports and records show.
The Republicans also noted that the U.S. Department of Justice investigated Blue Star for possible violations of the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA), though the probe was said to be closed in 2022.
“For all these reasons, we believe that you possess specialized information that will meaningfully advance the impeachment inquiry,” Mr. Jordan, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, and Mr. Comer, chairman of the House Oversight Committee, said in the missives.
“Additionally, we believe that you possess relevant information that would assist the committees in crafting potential legislation, including legislative reforms to FARA. The committees also are considering crafting legislation that would strengthen reporting requirements related to certain foreign transactions involving senior elected officials’ family members and that would implement robust financial disclosure requirements that shed light on ownership of opaque corporate entities.”
The lawmakers want Ms. Painter and Ms. Tramontano to sit for transcribed interviews with the panels.
Blue Star didn’t respond to a request for comment.
Ms. Tramontano has previously defended Blue Star’s actions, telling senators that the meeting with Mr. Hochstein was merely to “understand his and the State Department’s position” regarding Burisma.
She also denied leveraging Mr. Biden’s name to secure a meeting with the other State Department official.
“Finally, I want to assure the committees’ chairmen that at no time did I or anyone else in the firm working on behalf of Burisma collaborate or coordinate the development or implementation of our work with Hunter Biden,” she also wrote in a letter at the time.
“We had no discussions or meetings with Mr. Biden regarding our contractual agreement with Burisma or Blue Star Strategies’ terms of engagement. Mr. Biden played no role in Blue Star Strategies’ work on behalf of Burisma—either in its limited scope in the U.S. or its more extensive scope in Ukraine. Mr. Biden has no role in Blue Star Strategies and holds no financial interest in Blue Star Strategies.”
Hunter Biden on Blue Star
Mr. Biden wrote in a 2015 email to Burisma executives that he and Devon Archer, a business associate, “do feel comfortable with [Blue Star] and the ability of Sally and Karen to deliver.”
One executive had asked whether Mr. Biden and Mr. Archer “feel comfortable that they will deliver in real terms we are talking about.”
The requests came after Mr. Biden said he would testify to House Republicans, but only in public.
Mr. Biden was subpoenaed earlier in November. Mr. Comer asked for closed-door testimony.
“A public proceeding would prevent selective leaks, manipulated transcripts, doctored exhibits, or one-sided press statements,” Abbe Lowell, a lawyer representing Mr. Biden, told Mr. Comer in a letter.
Republicans said the testimony would still take place in private.
“Hunter Biden is trying to play by his own rules instead of following the rules required of everyone else. That won’t stand with House Republicans,” Mr. Comer told The Epoch Times via email.
“Our lawfully issued subpoena to Hunter Biden requires him to appear for a deposition on December 13. We expect full cooperation with our subpoena for a deposition but also agree that Hunter Biden should have opportunity to testify in a public setting at a future date.”