The Department of Justice (DOJ) is reportedly investigating a lobbying firm once hired by the Ukrainian energy company that in turn once employed Hunter Biden, President Joe Biden’s son.
The Burisma Holdings energy company hired Blue Star Strategies, a multinational lobbying firm founded by alumni of the Clinton administration, in 2015. Hunter Biden sat on Burisma’s board at the time. Since Blue Star did not file paperwork with the State Department declaring that it was lobbying for Burisma, it could have violated the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA), Politico reported Thursday.
FARA was passed in 1938 due to concerns of Nazi activities in the United States. It “requires certain agents of foreign principals who are engaged in political activities … to make periodic public disclosure of their relationship with the foreign principal, as well as activities, receipts and disbursements in support of those activities,” according to the Justice Department.
FARA defines political activities as “any activity that the person engaging in believes will … or … intends to … influence any agency or official of the Government of the United States or any section of the public within the United States with reference to formulating, adopting, or changing the domestic or foreign policies of the United States.”
SCOOP: The Justice Department is investigating the work of the consulting firm Blue Star Strategies linked to Hunter Biden for potential illegal lobbying for Burisma, four people familiar with the probe told @woodruffbets and me. https://t.co/RDHxh3JDX6
— Daniel Lippman (@dlippman) June 3, 2021
The Delaware U.S. Attorney’s Office is reportedly involved in the investigation. Biden is not a target of the Blue Star FARA probe, according to Politico. Biden’s foreign business deals, particularly with a Chinese energy company, are being investigated by the Delaware U.S. Attorney’s Office for potential tax law violations.
Burisma first hired Blue Star Strategies to improve its reputation after then-U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt slammed the company’s owner, Mykola Zlochevsky, as corrupt in a 2015 New York Times article. Karen Tramontano, Blue Star co-founder and CEO, testified to Congress in August 2020 that Burisma wanted Blue Star to “find out whether… Ambassador Pyatt’s position reflected the Department of State’s position” as to whether or not Burisma was corrupt.
Blue Star Strategies used Biden’s name in multiple emails to secure meetings with State Department officials, and Biden himself met with then-Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken in 2015. The subject of that meeting is unclear. (RELATED: Firm Linked To Hunter Biden And Burisma Lobbied For Ukrainian Group Accused Of Smearing Anti-Corruption Organization)
In addition, Blue Star “deliver[ed] letters to Members of Congress… who had oversight or interest in the area of concern for the national interest of Ukraine Group,” Tramontano testified. She denied “try[ing] to influence U.S. policy with respect to Ukraine.”
Amos Hochstein, the former Special Envoy and Coordinator for International Energy Affairs, testified to Congress in September 2020 that Tramontano told him Blue Star was hired “to look into the accusations against Mr. Zlochevsky and Burisma and to give an assessment of the veracity of the charges against… Zlochevsky.”
During a later meeting with Tramontano, her Blue Star co-founder Sally Painter and Burisma lawyer John Buretta, Hochstein said the United States government continued to view Burisma as a corrupt company.
“They did not like my answer, and they tried to convince me otherwise,” he testified.