The GOP-controlled Senate Homeland Security Committee on Wednesday voted to issue a subpoena to a Democratic consulting firm, Blue Star Strategies, which Ukrainian energy company Burisma Holdings paid $60,000 in November 2015 in connection with efforts to help end a long-running investigation in Ukraine. Burisma notoriously employed Hunter Biden to sit on its board - paying him upwards of $50,000 per month.
The vote to subpoena Blue Star was passed 8-6 along party lines.
Blue Star responded to the subpoena Wednesday in a letter to Johnson, writing that they don't understand the need for a subpoena, as they have cooperated - or intend to cooperate - with the committee "at every opportunity" in what Democrats are calling a politically motivated probe.
Sen. Gary Peters of Michigan, the top Democrat on the Committee, said the committee should be focusing on the pandemic instead of Hunter Biden.
"We’re in the midst of a pandemic with over 90,000 people who have lost their lives, we've got an unprecedented amount of unemployment that’s sweeping across the country," Peter told reporters. "We need to be focused on the crisis."
But Johnson says that he’s moving forward with the investigation because people "need to know the truth." -NBC News
In March, Johnson said he wanted to specifically address matters involving Andrii Telizhenko - a former Blue Star consultant who hid behind a nondisclosure agreement.
"Because Mr. Telizhenko's records and information would be responsive to the committee's requests, and Blue Star has refused to provide them, a subpoena to Mr. Telizhenko for these records is appropriate at this time," read a March letter Johnson sent to members of his committee. "Accordingly, I will be scheduling a vote in the near future to approve issuing the enclosed subpoena."
"Blocking the receipt of relevant records, as any committee member voting against this subpoena would be doing, only heightens the risk of 'disinformation' because Congress would not have access to all pertinent information," he added.
Hunter Biden was paid upwards of $50,000 per month to sit on Burisma's board while his father was Vice President, and Obama's point-man on Ukraine policy - where he notoriously forced the country's prior administration to fire a prosecutor investigating the energy giant.
Meanwhile, Hunter and his colleagues had multiple contacts with the Obama State Department during the 2016 election cycle - just one month before Joe Biden forced Ukraine to fire the prosecutor investigating Burisma for corruption, according to investigative journalist John Solomon.
During that February 2016 contact, a U.S. representative for Burisma Holdings sought a meeting with Undersecretary of State Catherine A. Novelli to discuss ending the corruption allegations against the Ukrainian firm where Hunter Biden worked as a board member, according to memos obtained under a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit. (I filed that suit this summer with the help of the public interest law firm the Southeastern Legal Foundation.)
Just three weeks before Burisma’s overture to State, Ukrainian authorities raided the home of the oligarch who owned the gas firm and employed Hunter Biden, a signal the long-running corruption probe was escalating in the middle of the U.S. presidential election.
Hunter Biden’s name, in fact, was specifically invoked by the Burisma representative as a reason the State Department should help, according to a series of email exchanges among U.S. officials trying to arrange the meeting. The subject line for the email exchanges read simply “Burisma.”
“Per our conversation, Karen Tramontano of Blue Star Strategies requested a meeting to discuss with U/S Novelli USG remarks alleging Burisma (Ukrainian energy company) of corruption,” a Feb. 24, 2016, email between State officials read. “She noted that two high profile U.S. citizens are affiliated with the company (including Hunter Biden as a board member).
“Tramontano would like to talk with U/S Novelli about getting a better understanding of how the U.S. came to the determination that the company is corrupt,” the email added. “According to Tramontano there is no evidence of corruption, has been no hearing or process, and evidence to the contrary has not been considered."
At the time, Novelli was the most senior official overseeing international energy issues for State. The undersecretary position, of which there are several, is the third-highest-ranking job at State, behind the secretary and deputy secretary. And Tramontano was a lawyer working for Blue Star Strategies, a Washington firm that was hired by Burisma to help end a long-running corruption investigation against the gas firm in Ukraine.
Tramontano and another Blue Star official, Sally Painter, both alumni of Bill Clinton’s administration, worked with New York-based criminal defense attorney John Buretta to settle the Ukraine cases in late 2016 and 2017. I wrote about their efforts previously here.
Burisma Holdings records obtained by Ukrainian prosecutors state the gas firm made a $60,000 payment to Blue Star in November 2015.