- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 5, 2019

Senators are probing a consulting firm over its reported name-dropping of Hunter Biden while working for the Ukrainian energy company, Burisma, which has been plagued with allegations of corruption and mentioned in connection to the impeachment inquiry into President Trump.

Republican Sens. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin and Chuck Grassley of Iowa have asked the chief executive officer at Blue Star Strategies for information regarding its work for Burisma after recent reports suggest the consulting firm used Mr. Biden’s position on the board of the Ukrainian company to obtain meetings with Obama administration officials.

“The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee and the Committee on Finance (committees) are investigating whether certain officials within the Obama administration had actual or apparent conflicts of interest because of Hunter Biden’s role,” read the senators’ letter sent earlier this week.

“In addition, the committees are reviewing whether Hunter Biden or his associates had any role in the formulation of the Obama administration’s policies with respect to Ukraine,” they added.

The two chairmen said the purported communications between Blue Star and Obama administration officials came when Mr. Biden’s father, then-Vice President Joseph R. Biden was the “public face of the administration’s handling of Ukraine.”

The senators cite media reports that Amos Hochstein, an adviser to the former vice president, met with Blue Star representatives in 2015 in which Hunter’s name came up in connection to Burisma. According to the letter, it’s believed Blue Star was sent to convince Mr. Hochstein to ease up on investigations into the energy company.

The senators also said an email in early 2016 reveals Karen Tramontano, the chief executive officer of Blue Star, reaching out to a State Department official, mentioning Mr. Biden’s son as a board member of Burisma.

The request to Blue Star comes about a month after the two Republican lawmakers also called for Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to release documents related to Hunter’s work for Burisma, requesting all State Department records related to the former vice president’s son and the controversial company.

They also want to know whether the inspector general or another official at the State Department is reviewing potential conflicts of interest in connection to Hunter Biden’s work for Burisma while his father was vice president.

“Emails recently obtained and made public through a [Freedom of Information Act] request indicate that Burisma’s consulting firm used Hunter Biden’s role on Burisma’s board to gain access and potentially influence matters at the State Department,” the senators said in the request to Mr. Pompeo.

The Ukrainian energy company hired Mr. Biden’s son for its board of directors, and then subsequently pressed the Obama State Department to end a corruption investigation into the company, according to the recently released documents.

Burisma Holdings, which employed the younger Mr. Biden as a board member with a $50,000-per-month salary, despite having no experience in the energy field, pushed for a meeting with a top State Department official to discuss terminating the Ukraine investigation in February 2016, the documents show.

As part of the push to end the Ukraine probe, a Burisma representative name-dropped the younger Mr. Biden.

The company and both Bidens have been caught up in the impeachment inquiry, which House Democrats launched after the president requested Ukrainian officials look into corruption involving the Bidens while withholding military aid.

A spokesperson from Blue Star did not immediately return a request for comment.

• Jeff Mordock can be reached at jmordock@washingtontimes.com.

• Alex Swoyer can be reached at aswoyer@washingtontimes.com.

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