Republicans Hone in on Blinken and Wife’s Contacts with Hunter Biden Related to Burisma

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BY: KRISTINA WONG 4 May 2023

Republicans are honing in on the role Secretary of State Antony Blinken and his wife played in alleged influence efforts by Hunter Biden.

As Breitbart News reported,  in a letter released Tuesday by Sens. Ron Johnson (R-WI) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Blinken told congressional investigators in December 2020 that when he was deputy secretary of state during the Obama administration, he was not aware of Biden’s association with Burisma.

“It seems highly unlikely that you had no idea of Hunter Biden’s association with Burisma while your wife was apparently coordinating with Hunter Biden to potentially connect you with Burisma’s U.S. representatives,” they wrote to Blinken, asking him and his wife to preserve their records for further investigation.

The senators released a transcript of Blinken’s interview in 2020 that showed he was asked, “During your time as Deputy Secretary of State, were you aware of any association that Hunter Biden had with Burisma?” Blinken responded, “I was not.” Blinken also denied having any knowledge of Hunter Biden’s service on the board of Burisma.

However, the senators pointed to emails on the laptop that show that Hunter Biden in July 2016 had urged Blinken, through his wife, to speak with executives of a Democrat consulting firm representing Burisma, and that Blinken had made an effort to talk to them after Hunter Biden’s urging. Burisma had hired the firm, Blue Star Strategies, in November 2015 to improve its image in Washington, D.C., after facing allegations of corruption.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken, at right, watch as Hunter Biden, the son of President Joe Biden, left, chases after his son Beau during the White House Easter Egg Roll at the White House, Monday, April 18, 2022 in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Previous State Department emails obtained by Johnson showed that Sally Painter, Blue Star Strategies chief operating officer, had run into Blinken at an event in June 2016, and that Painter had written to Blinken’s assistant three days later to arrange a coffee meeting with Blinken.

“Per my conversation with Tony at the Truman event, Karen Tramontano and I would like to have a brief coffee with Tony at his earliest convenience regarding some troubling events we are seeing in Ukraine. (He said yes). Karen was President Clinton’s Deputy Chief of Staff and we are just back from Kiev,” Painter said in the email. Karen Tramontano was Blue Star Strategies’ Chief Executive Officer. A call appeared to have been scheduled for the next month, but fell through, according to the DailyMail.com.

At that point, Hunter Biden got involved, emailing Blinken’s wife, according to Johnson and Grassley. Blinken’s wife was then-assistant secretary of state for educational and cultural affairs.

“Time [for] a very quick call?” Hunter Biden wrote to Blinken’s wife on her personal email address on July 14, 2016. Blinken’s wife responded, “He said neither Karen or Sally called this afternoon.”

Hunter Biden then responded, “I don’t know what happened. Talked to S and K and they said they called at 5:30 and left message w/ his Asst. Sorry.” She replied back, “He didn’t get the msg. He said if we can get him their numbers he can call them late afternoon DC time tmrw – let me know if that works.”

Johnson and Grassley said “S” and “K” appeared to be Painter and Tramantano.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken and his wife Evan Ryan poses for photographers as they arrives at the annual White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner in Washington, Saturday, April 29, 2023. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

According to the senators, the day after Hunter Biden emailed his wife, Blinken emailed a State Department official whose name was redacted, “Please send me her number. I may call.” The official responded, “Should you decide to call, please reach out to Karen Tramontano and her cell is [redacted].”

It is not clear whether the call happened, but Blinken told investigations in his December 2020 interview that he did not recall having coffee with them.

Johnson and Grassley wrote in a letter to Blinken released on Tuesday:

The public recently learned through congressional testimony from former CIA official Michael Morell, that you allegedly were the catalyst of an October 2020 information operation aimed to deceive Americans about the authenticity of Hunter Biden’s laptop. It is now evident that your apparent willingness to deceive the public continued through December 2020 when you failed to tell the whole truth to congressional investigators about your contacts with Hunter Biden.

Because your testimony is inaccurate, Congress and the public must rely on your records as the source for information about your dealings with Hunter Biden. As such, you must preserve and provide all records, referring or relating to Hunter Biden, his business dealings, or his family’s business dealings, including but not limited to correspondence sent or received from your personal email accounts and phones, to include those of Ms. Ryan. These records will help provide the public a complete picture and understanding of the extent of your apparent deceptions. We request you and Ms. Ryan produce these records no later than May 15, 2023.

Hunter Biden reportedly joined the board of Burisma in April 2014, when U.S. and British authorities were investigating its owner Mykola Zlochevsky. Biden’s appointment stoked controversy at the State Department.

George Kent, a senior State Department official had written in an email to other senior State Department officials on September 6, 2016: “the presence of Hunter Biden on the Burisma board was very awkward for all U.S. officials pushing an anti-corruption agenda in Ukraine.”

According to the DailyMail.com, emails from Hunter Biden’s laptop showed that he was the “point man” for Burisma’s hiring of Blue Star Strategies, which worked to convince U.S. officials to take a softer approach to Zlochevsky and refrain from calling his company “corrupt.”

Blue Star Strategies reportedly fell under a Justice Department investigation in 2021 for potentially violating the Foreign Agents Registration Act by failing to register their work for Burisma, but ended the probe by filing its Burisma lobbying work six years after the fact. That filing showed $60,000 of work for Zlochevsky in 2015 and 2016 including “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,” according to DailyMail.com.

The filing only listed a 2016 “email and meeting” with Obama’s energy envoy Amos Hochstein, and with Under Secretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy, and the Environment Catherine Novelli, but did not declare any meetings, emails, or calls with Blinken, the outlet reported.

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