Federal prosecutors are probing whether a D.C. lobbying firm violated U.S. foreign agent registration law while working for Burisma, Politico reports.
Prosecutors from the Delaware U.S. Attorney’s Office and DOJ’s National Security Division are reportedly reviewing whether Blue Star Strategies illegally lobbied on Burisma’s behalf.
Republicans have heaped attention on the Ukrainian gas company because Hunter Biden served on its board starting in 2014. At the time, the company and its owner Mykola Zlochevsky faced allegations of massive corruption, with both Ukrainian and foreign prosecutors scrutinizing whether it siphoned gargantuan amounts of ill-gotten gains out of the Eastern European nation during its 2014 revolution.
Biden was brought on the board in part as a public relations strategy. His involvement has since become a focus of conspiracizing for Republicans.
The attempt to link Hunter’s time on the Burisma board to any aspect of Joe Biden’s policy towards Ukraine as vice president got former President Trump impeached, and has been an obsession of GOP operatives, including Rudy Giuliani.
In spite of those efforts, Trump and his acolytes have failed to substantiate any connection between Hunter Biden’s relationship with Burisma and the policy of his father, then-Vice President Joe Biden, towards Ukraine.
In the effort to fend off corruption investigations, however, Burisma hired Blue Star Strategies in November 2015, a D.C. firm run by two former Clinton administration officials, Sally Painter and Karen Tramontano.
A Senate panel led by Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) invested heavily in probing the Burisma allegations last year. Though that investigation failed to uncover anything to substantiate its theories, documents released in the probe did show successive meetings between U.S. officials and Blue Star employees working on the Burisma engagement.
Blue Star also hired as a contractor Andrii Telizhenko, a former low-level staffer at Ukraine’s embassy in Washington D.C. who has spent the past five years claiming that it was Ukraine, and not Russia, which interfered in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Tramontano, Blue Star’s CEO, denied to Senate investigators that Telizhenko’s contract had anything to do with the firm’s Burisma engagement.
Delaware federal prosecutors have been investigating Hunter Biden for alleged tax violations since late 2018.
Since the prosecution of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and the broader Trump-Russia scandal, the DOJ has ramped up its focus on prosecuting violations of the Foreign Agents Registration Act. That law makes lobbying for foreign governments and entities in the U.S. illegal unless the lobbyist registers with the Justice Department.
While the law had long been seen as a paper tiger, the new scrutiny has pressured more lobbying firms to register.
A review of FARA records by TPM did not show any registration by Blue Star on Burisma’s behalf.
Blue Star did not immediately return requests for comment.
Politico reported that “grand jury activity” has taken place in the case, though the scope of the probe remains unclear.