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Letters to the Editor — May 31, 2021
The CEO of Blue Star Strategies — a lobbying firm with ties to the Ukrainian oil company, Burisma, where Hunter Biden sat on the board of directors — told former Ukrainian prosecutor Yuriy Lutsenko that they could get him “access” to “high levels” of the Clinton campaign in the two weeks leading up to the 2016 presidential election, according to a report.
The report comes from Fox News, which obtained an email sent by Obama-era State Department official George Kent to a number of colleagues about a meeting between himself and Lutsenko in Sept. 2016.
In the email, dated Sept. 4, 2016, Kent explained that he met with Lutsenko “one on one after I’d SMSed him regarding stories that he was using a third party lobbyist to pull together a planned trip to DC,” which he said “turned into a chat over Thai food at the DCR.”
“He said he honestly didn’t know how Blue Star was to get paid — he didn’t have funds — and that some BPP MP that we probably didn’t know ‘and that’s good’ (Truhubenko??) had introduced them to him,” Kent wrote, not specifying who “Truhubenko” is.
Getting into the “pitch,” Kent said Blue Star had promised access to “high levels of the Clinton campaign,” including “the possible next Presidential Chief of Staff,” John Podesta.
“Blue Star CEO [Karen] Tramantano’s pitch was that she could gain him access to high levels of the Clinton campaign (GPK note: she was [John] Podesta’s deputy as deputy COS the last year of Bill Clinton’s tenure), and that was appealing — to meet the possible next Presidential Chief of Staff,” he wrote.
“But I pointed out that wasn’t too likely 6 weeks before the election, and that the embassies could arrange meetings at DOJ and State, and the Ukr embassy on the Hill,” he continued. “As for the Hill, not many members would be around 6 weeks before an election when Congress would be in recess, and the attention of the chattering think tank class would be on UNGA. Not the best timing, apart from DOJ and State.”
Kent also made reference to Burisma in the email and the meeting, writing, “In connection to Blue Star, I noted their representation of Burisma/Zlochevsky.”
Lutsenko, Kent said, “mentioned the various money flows from Ukraine to lobbyists that had been prominently in the news this past month, whether Manafort/Klueyev via Brussels to Podesta Group and Weber/Mercury, Yanu’s Justice Minister Lavrynovych to Skaden/arps-and Greg Caid—and Pinchuk to Clinton Foundation, and the media attention being paid at present to the Kyiv/ Washington lobbyist gravy train.”
“And he got the drift. Not ideal timing, little receptive audience, and wrong facilitator,” he added.
“He said he’d figure out a better time when there would be more traction/ better audience.”
In the final months of the 2020 election, The Post exclusively reported that the Obama administration permitted Blue Star to take part in a conference call about an upcoming visit to Ukraine by then-Vice President Biden.
An associate at Blue Star Strategies then emailed a memo with minutes of the conference call hosted by the White House to a top Burisma executive, Vadym Pozharskyi, as well as to Joe Biden’s son Hunter and Hunter’s business partner, Devon Archer, both of whom sat on Burisma’s board.
The trip, in December 2015, turned out to be the one during which Biden later bragged about forcing Ukrainian officials to fire a state prosecutor who was investigating Burisma by threatening to withhold a $1 billion US loan guarantee.
The memo also “outlined the trip’s agenda and addressed several questions regarding US policy toward Ukraine.”
Blue Star has said it began working for Burisma and contacting Ukrainian officials on its behalf in November 2015, and an email shows that on Nov. 18, 2015, Pozharskyi sent the Blue Star contract to Hunter Biden, Archer and Eric Schwerin, president of the Rosemont Seneca Partners investment firm.
Hunter Biden’s role with Burisma raised red flags for some in the Obama administration’s State Department, which a Sept. 2019 Senate Homeland Security Committee report found were raised to Biden and those in his orbit.
The 87-page report published late last month noted that two American officials — Kent senior State Department official Amos Hochstein — “raised concerns” to Biden’s staff and directly to Biden, respectively.
“Despite the efforts of these individuals, their concerns appear to have fallen on deaf ears,” the report says.
“Moreover, this investigation has illustrated the extent to which officials within the Obama administration ignored the glaring warning signs when the vice president’s son joined the board of a company owned by a corrupt Ukrainian oligarch.”
Then-presidential candidate Joe Biden said last year of Hunter, “I have never spoken to my son about his overseas business dealings,” including his reported $83,000 monthly pay on Burisma’s board.
Both Joe and Hunter have denied any wrongdoing with respect to Ukraine, and spokespeople for Biden’s campaign repeatedly slammed the Senate probe as biased and political.
Blue Star Strategies is being probed for potential illegal lobbying after it took on Burisma as a client while Hunter was on its board, Politico reported Thursday.
The US Attorney’s Office in Delaware, which is already investigating Hunter for possible “tax” violations, is working with lawyers in the Justice Department’s National Security Division in Washington, DC, the report said.
One aspect of the investigation is whether Blue Star failed to comply with the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) that requires Americans to disclose lobbying work for foreign entities.
The report noted that there is no indication that Hunter is a target in the investigation, and Karen Tramontano, one of the firm’s co-founders, testified that the president’s son did not direct any of Blue Star’s work on behalf of Burisma.
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