George Kent, a career official at the State Department, told House investigators conducting the impeachment inquiry against President Trump that he raised concerns about Hunter Biden’s lucrative service on the board of a Ukrainian natural gas company — and confirmed that he had no “direct knowledge” that U.S. aid to Ukraine was ever connected to the opening of a new investigation.
According to a transcript of his Oct. 15 closed-door deposition released Thursday, Kent said that in January or February 2015, he “became aware that Hunter Biden was on the board” of Ukrainian company Burisma Holdings while his father Joe Biden was overseeing Ukraine policy as vice president.
“I did not know that at the time,” Kent testified. “And when I was on a call with somebody on the vice president’s staff and I cannot recall who it was, just briefing on what was happening into Ukraine, I raised my concerns that I had heard that Hunter Biden was on the board of a company owned by somebody that the U.S. Government had spent money trying to get tens of millions of dollars back, and that could create the perception of a conflict of interest.”
After discussing those concerns with Biden’s staff, Kent testified, “The message that I recall hearing back was that the Vice President’s son Beau was dying of cancer and that there was no further bandwidth to deal with family-related issues at that time.”
Kent, who serves as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State and was defying the State Department’s instruction that he not testify, additionally confirmed that “nobody in the Ukrainian Government became aware of a hold on military aid” until Aug. 29th — a month after Trump’s July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
Democrats have alleged Trump threatened to withhold military aid to Ukraine unless Zelensky agreed to investigate the Bidens’ dealings in Ukraine, although Zelensky has said he felt no such pressure.
Kent testified that to the best of his knowledge, the aid issue was ultimately “resolved by the president,” and U.S. military aid was released to Ukraine in September. However, there was a period when Ukraine was on notice that the aid was suspended: Politico reported in August that the Ukraine aid was being held up — two weeks before it was released.