WASHINGTON, DC — President Joe Biden’s Department of Justice (DOJ) investigation into a Washington lobbying firm connected to his son, Hunter Biden, has been closed because the agency did not find any evidence of wrongdoing.
According to Peter Kadzik, the lawyer for the CEO of the lobbying firm Blue Star Strategies, there is no longer a federal criminal investigation against the firm.
Biden suggested Michael Flynn be charged with a Logan Act violation for nothing. These rich lawyers/lobbyists exert influence on behalf of a foreign company/govt and Biden's Meritless Garland does nothing.— Jorge E. Ravelo (@jeravelo) May 19, 2022
Last week, Blue Star Strategies filed a Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) report that was actually due six years ago.
FARA requires U.S. firms to disclose the names of foreign clients on whose behalf they lobby the government.
Blue Star Strategies’ filed report admitted it was a foreign agent and held several undisclosed meetings in 2016 with the U.S. State Department during the Obama-Biden administration.
The firm helped Hunter Biden’s Ukrainian gas client, the controversial Ukrainian oligarch Mykola Zlochevsky.
Zlochevsky owned Burisma Holdings, an oil and natural gas company that was founded in 2002. The oligarch has been the subject of fraud investigations, but has never been convicted.
It's over. Move along— Kyle Godzilla (@GodzillaKyle) May 18, 2022
In 2014, Hunter Biden joined the board of Burisma, earning a reported monthly salary of $50,000.
With the very late filing of the FARA report, Blue Star Strategies will no longer face a penalty, according to Kadzik.
However, as the criminal investigation against Hunter Biden continues, questions are once again being raised as to why Blue Star Strategies only recently disclosed the meetings it held in 2016.
The meetings allegedly were about the corruption cases in Ukraine and Great Britain involving Burisma Holdings and its owner Zlochevsky.
In addition, there appears to be conflicting testimony that was made in 2020 by Blue Star Strategies’ partners, which included Sally Painter and Karen Tramontano.
Biden story is a tale of real American political machine at work. Lies and half truth and now a war.— RepDem Oligarchy (@MoSoApril2019) March 19, 2022
Blue Star Strategies co-founders, Tramontano and Sally Painter, are well-connected longtime Washington operatives and alums of the Clinton administration. https://t.co/gVFYGBHdH4
The Washington Post reported that Senate Republicans requested information from Tramontano in December of 2019 and that she ended up sitting for an interview in August of 2020 with members of the Senate Homeland Security and Finance committees:
“As part of their call in 2019 for the State Department to release documents on Burisma’s dealings in Washington, Sens. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, and Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa), chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, cited a State Department email suggesting that Tramontano made note of ‘two high-profile U.S. citizens (including Hunter Biden as a board member) affiliated with the company’ when requesting a meeting with a U.S. official.
“Tramontano told Senate investigators she had not used Hunter Biden’s name to secure meetings with U.S. officials. She also said she was not intending to influence U.S. policy when engaging with those officials and that none of her meetings resulted in policy changes toward Ukraine. A spokeswoman for Tramontano declined to offer additional comment beyond the attorney’s statement.”
Federal prosecutors are investigating whether Blue Star Strategies, owned by Atlantic Council board member Sally Painter, failed to properly register as a foreign agent when lobbying for the Ukrainian gas giant. https://t.co/3JwRvgFZLm— Jim Borland – (@borland_jim) April 1, 2022
The Washington Post’s same report also noted that the DOJ declined to comment on the now-closed investigation:
“The conclusion of the probe, which has not been previously reported, involved the firm submitting a new filing with the Justice Department detailing its lobbying activities on behalf of Burisma and its owner, Mykola Zlochevsky, in 2015 and 2016. A Justice Department spokesman declined to comment.
“Blue Star Strategies, a bipartisan public affairs consultancy that touts its work for major corporations and foreign governments, took Burisma as a client in November 2015, according to testimony provided in 2020 by the firm’s CEO, Karen Tramontano, to Senate investigators.
“Tramontano has maintained that the firm did not coordinate its activities with the younger son of then-Vice President Biden, who was on Burisma’s board at the time. Blue Star’s service to Burisma involved a ‘range of government, public affairs, and legal services,’ she told Senate Republicans in response to a December 2019 letter, which included ‘discussions with appropriate government and non-governmental organizations regarding Ukraine’s energy security needs.’
“At the time, Blue Star Strategies did not disclose its work for Burisma as part of filings required of ‘certain agents of foreign principals’ under the Foreign Agents Registration Act.
“Tramontano’s attorney, Peter J. Kadzik, said the firm ‘fully cooperated’ with the DOJ probe, the existence of which was reported last year by Politico, which said one focus of the federal investigation was whether the lobbying shop had failed to comply with disclosure requirements.”
The Washington Post further reported that the DOJ appeared to provide “guidance” to Blue Star Strategies in terms of the firm’s May 12 FARA filing:
“The new filing, stamped May 12 and made ‘pursuant to guidance from DOJ personnel,’ involves the firm ‘adding retroactively a foreign principal for a specific and limited time in 2016.’
“The foreign principal was Zlochevsky, the Burisma owner and former ecology and natural resources minister under Ukrainian President Viktor F. Yanukovych, who was forced into exile in 2014.
“An exhibit submitted with the filing states that Blue Star Strategies ‘was asked in 2016 to help schedule meetings with U.S. Government officials so counsel for Mr. Zlochevsky could present an explanation of certain adverse proceedings in the U.K. and Ukraine involving Mr. Zlochevsky.’
“The firm scheduled two such meetings, the exhibit continues, and a firm representative accompanied Zlochevsky’s counsel to the meetings. The firm received a monthly retainer of $30,000 in March and April of 2016, according to the filing, ‘a small portion of which was allocated to scheduling a meeting for Mr. Zlochevsky’s attorney.’”
While the DOJ has cleared one lobbying firm of any wrongdoing, it has filed a FARA-related suit this week against casino magnate Steve Wynn, who is a billionaire.
This is extraordinarily rare. The DOJ press release notes it's the first such civil enforcement FARA case in more than 30 years, and I'm pretty sure that's right.— Carrie Levine (@levinecarrie) May 17, 2022
The DOJ has alleged Wynn failed to disclose work on behalf of the government of China when he personally lobbied former President Donald Trump while he was in office.
Daily Mail reported:
“The contacts were over a 2017 effort to extradite Chinese businessman Guo Wengui, who faced a litany of charges that he fiercely denies and was forced to flee Beijing‘s government in 2014.”
ABC News reported:
“The Justice Department is suing Las Vegas casino mogul Steve Wynn to compel him to register as a foreign agent for the People’s Republic of China because of alleged lobbying he did on behalf of the Chinese government during the Trump administration.
“The civil lawsuit targeting Wynn outlines his alleged efforts in 2017 to push then-President Donald Trump and senior members of his administration to deport a Chinese businessman living in New York at the request of China’s Vice Minister of the Ministry of Public Security, Sun Lijun.
“The Chinese businessman had been charged with corruption in China and had sought political asylum in America, according to court documents.”
According to ABC News, the DOJ said Wynn conveyed the request to Trump over dinner and by phone. Trump then allegedly said he would look into the situation, according to the DOJ’s lawsuit.
The DOJ also acknowledged that the Chinese national was never deported.
Wynn’s legal team told ABC News it was planning to fight the DOJ’s lawsuit.
Wynn attorneys Reid Weingarten and Brian Heberlig said in the statement to ABC:
“Steve Wynn has never acted as an agent of the Chinese government and had no obligation to register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act.
“We respectfully disagree with the Department of Justice’s legal interpretation of FARA and look forward to proving our case in court.”
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