Republican Senators Chuck Grassley, Iowa, and Ron Johnson, Wisc., want some answers on how much, if any, influence Hunter Biden’s job at a Ukrainian energy company had on decisions made by the State Department under President Barack Obama.
In a letter dated Wednesday, the two senators asked Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for a wide range of records to “better understand what actions, if any, the Obama administration took to ensure that policy decisions relating to Ukraine and Burisma were not improperly influenced by the employment and financial interests of family members.”
“In April 2014, Vice President Biden reportedly became the ‘public face of the administration’s handling of Ukraine,'” the lawmakers write. “Around the same time, the Vice President’s son, Hunter Biden, and his business associate, Devon Archer, both began serving on the board of Burisma Holdings, a Ukrainian energy company.”
Hunter Biden’s former employment at Burisma is at the center of the current impeachment debate raging in Washington, D.C. At a 2018 Council on Foreign Relations event, Biden said that he — while still vice president — pressured then-Ukranain President Petro Poroshenko to fire then-Ukrainian Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin while Shokin was leading an investigation into the company by threatening to withhold $1 billion in U.S. loan guarantees. House Democrats’ impeachment probe has examined whether or not president Trump pressured Ukrainian authorities to look into the Burisma investigation with military aid.
In their Wednesday letter, Grassley and Johnson refer to a recent story from reporter John Solomon saying that, during the 2016 election cycle, a U.S. representative for Burisma — Karen Tramontano — tried to set up a meeting with Undersecretary of State Catherine A. Novelli to discuss ending the corruption allegations against the company.
“Although it is not clear if Under Secretary Novelli met with Karen Tramontano on March 1, 2016, as planned, later that month Tramontano and other members of Burisma’s legal team reportedly met with Ukrainian prosecutors,” the letter notes, referring to another report from Solomon from September. “According to what appears to be contemporaneous notes by one of those Ukrainian prosecutors, during that meeting, Burisma’s legal team apologized about what they alleged to be ‘false information’ promoted by the U.S. Government about the prosecutors’ handling of the investigation of Burisma.”
The two also note other documents that “show other meetings that Burisma board members Hunter Biden and Devon Archer scheduled with high-ranking State Department officials” in 2015. The letter also points out that “just one day after Tramontano was scheduled to meet with Under Secretary Novelli about Burisma, Devon Archer was scheduled to meet with Secretary of State John Kerry.”
The lawmakers then ask the department to provide “all State Department records relating to Hunter Biden, Devon Archer, [their business partner] Christopher Heinz, and Karen Tramontano” as well as “all State Department records relating to Burisma Holdings” and those related to some of Biden’s other business ventures. They also ask whether or not the State Department has asked the Office of the Legal Adviser or the Office of the Inspector General to “review potential concerns and conflicts of interest related to Hunter Biden’s work for Burisma while Vice President Biden reportedly acted as the United States’ top official in Ukraine? If not, why not?”
Johnson is the chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, and Grassley chairs the Senate Finance Committee. The senators asked that the department provide the information in two weeks, giving a deadline of November 20.