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House GOP seeks interview with Blue Star leaders in connection with Hunter Biden Ukraine work

House GOP seeks interview with Blue Star leaders in connection with Hunter Biden Ukraine work

GOP committees investigating Hunter Biden are asking for interviews with two leaders of Blue Star Strategies, the lobbying firm that did work for Burisma, the Ukrainian energy company where the president’s son once served on the board, according to a letter obtained by The Hill.

The request is the latest for a circle of figures connected with Biden as the GOP hunts for any link connecting his business dealings to then-Vice President Biden’s work in Ukraine.

“In October 2015, Hunter Biden and his business associate and fellow Burisma board member, Devon Archer, connected Burisma to Blue Star Strategies to conduct lobbying work on behalf of Burisma. According to contemporaneous emails, Hunter Biden was instrumental in convincing Burisma to retain Blue Star’s services,” House Judiciary Chair Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and House Oversight Chair James Comer (R-Ky.) wrote.

The letters were sent to Blue Star’s CEO Karen Tramontano and Chief Operating Officer Sally Painter, who have already been interviewed by congressional investigators in the Senate. Blue Star did not immediately respond to request for comment.

Blue Star Strategies has long been in the sights of the GOP, even after the company announced in 2022 that a Justice Department probe into the lobbying shop had been closed with no findings of wrongdoing.

Still the request comes just hours after GOP leadership touted a new website dedicated to its impeachment investigations.

The request links into a central GOP claim that as vice president, Joe Biden worked to topple a Ukrainian prosecutor to benefit Burisma.

Biden’s actions were in line with that of the international community at the time, with the then top-prosecutor in the country criticized for failing to address corruption.

State Department officials have previously testified the U.S. policy was to withhold aid from Ukraine because of the failure to tackle corruption issues.

But when asked about whether the GOP planned to speak with those former officials or if they were accusing them of previously lying under oath when speaker to congressional investigators during the Trump impeachment, Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) largely lodged the question.

“No one’s ignoring testimony,” Johnson replied, before listing countries where Hunter Biden did business with his father before later meeting with his business associates.

The request from the two chairs points to emails obtained from two IRS whistleblowers that document some of Biden’s back-and-forth with Burisma executives as the energy company weighed whether to hire Blue Star Strategies.

The emails include correspondence with Vadym Pozharsky, who worked on behalf of the Ukrainian oligarch and owner of Burisma, Mykola Zlochevsky. The emails do not mention Zlochevsky directly, but refer to “Nikolay,” which can be a variation of Mykola.

Pozharsky expressed concern about the vagueness in the scope of Blue Star Strategies’s work, saying that if the lack of details was to be “on the safe and cautious side,” he’d still like to ensure that the firm would be conducting outreach to high-ranking U.S. officials on behalf of Burisma “expressing their ‘positive opinion’ and support of Nikolay/Burisma” to high-ranking Ukrainian officials, including the president and prosecutor general.

Pozharsky said the meetings should provide “support on Nikolay’s case to the top officials above with the ultimate purpose to close down for any cases/pursuits against Nikolay in Ukraine.”

Biden responded that he did “feel comfortable” with the scope of Blue Star’s proposal and that he trusted them to deliver.

Blue Star’s work appeared to kick off a nearly yearlong investigation by the Department of Justice (DOJ) into potential Foreign Agents Registration Act violations, a probe that began in the early days of the Biden administration.

But the company has been targeted by congressional investigators for years, and Tramontano and Painter sat for interviews with the Senate Homeland and Governmental Affairs Committee on the matter in 2020.

“They were concerned that Ambassador Pyatt had singled the company out as a corrupt company,” Tramontano said, referencing then-U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt’s comments about Burisma. He added that the company did not do work to influence U.S. policy.

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) in May pushed the Justice Department to answer questions about its investigation, asking DOJ to turn over its files and to explain whether it was aware of meetings that may have not been disclosed.

This story was updated at 3:29 p.m.

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