The Justice Department has launched a federal investigation into the work of a consulting firm connected with Hunter Biden for allegedly illegally lobbying a Ukrainian energy company, Politico reported Thursday.
Blue Star Strategies, the company in question, provided services to the Ukrainian energy company Burisma while then Vice President Joe Biden’s son Hunter Biden was a member of its board. The lobbying firm’s co-founders, Karen Tramontano and Sally Painter, have a long history in Washington politics, including serving in the Clinton administration.
Blue Star has come under fire in recent years for its work for Burisma Holdings, an energy company headquartered in Ukraine that has been investigated for corruption by Ukrainian authorities. No federal lobbying databases show record of Blue Star’s work for Burisma as it was not disclosed, a violation of the Foreign Agents Registration Act, which mandates that Americans release information related to their lobbying work for foreign officials and political parties. It began dealings with Burisma Holdings, whose founder was accused of corruption by the then U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine, in November 2015.
Tramontano, one of Blue Star’s co-founders, testified that Hunter Biden did not authorize any of the work performed for Burisma. According to Congressional testimony, Blue Star’s co-founders interacted with U.S. government officials as part of their work for Burisma, but they did not disclose to the Justice Department that Burisma was a client, a former top DOJ official said.
Biden pushed to have the prosecutor who was then investigating Burisma fired in 2015, during his tenure as Ukraine point man for the Obama administration. Critics have alleged that Biden pushed for the firing to protect Hunter’s interests, since he was then serving on the company’s board, but Biden has long maintained that the push was part of a broader anti-corruption effort in the country.
The news of the investigation comes as the Justice Department continues to crack down on foreign governments’ interference in U.S. politics through secret lobbying campaigns. Another related probe involved the former President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani and his alleged communications with Ukraine.
Giuliani attempted to investigate Hunter Biden’s relationship with Burisma but struggled to earn the collaboration of Ukrainian government officials. To advance that probe, Trump urged Ukraine’s president via phone call to help Giuliani with the investigation.
U.S. officials then demanded that the Ukrainian president direct the country law enforcement’s to investigate Burisma, or they would stall or withhold the delivery of promised anti-tank missiles. It was this shady arrangement that prompted the first Trump impeachment case.
Sources told Politico that the Delaware U.S. Attorney’s Office, which is looking into Hunter Biden’s potential tax infractions, as well as attorneys in the National Security Division at DOJ’s Washington headquarters, are assisting with the current Burisma inquiry. Two sources said that a grand jury is expected to be empaneled.