There is plenty of evidence that conflicts with the former vice president’s account, including Hunter Biden’s own story that he discussed the company once with his famous father.
There also was a December 2015 New York Times story that raised the question of whether Hunter Biden’s role at Burisma posed a conflict of interest for the vice president, especially when Joe Biden was leading the fight against Ukrainian corruption while Hunter Biden’s firm was under investigation by Ukrainian prosecutors.
But whatever the Biden family recollections, the Obama State Department clearly saw the Burisma Holdings investigation in the midst of the 2016 presidential election as a Joe Biden issue.
Memos newly released through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed by the Southeastern Legal Foundation on my behalf detail how State officials in June 2016 worked to prepare the new U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, to handle a question about “Burisma and Hunter Biden.”
In multiple drafts of a question-and-answer memo prepared for Yovanovitch’s Senate confirmation hearing, the department’s Ukraine experts urged the incoming ambassador to stick to a simple answer.
“Do you have any comment on Hunter Biden, the Vice President’s son, serving on the board of Burisma, a major Ukrainian Gas Company?,” the draft Q&A asked.
The recommended answer for Yovanovitch: “For questions on Hunter Biden’s role in Burisma, I would refer you to Vice President Biden’s office.”
The Q&A is consistent with other information flowing out of State. As I reported yesterday, when a Burisma representative contacted State in February 2016 to ask for the department’s help in quashing the corruption allegations, Hunter Biden’s role on the company’s board was prominently cited.
And a senior State Department official who testified recently in the impeachment proceedings reportedly told lawmakers he tried to warn the vice president’s office that Burisma posed a conflict for Joe Biden but was turned aside.