11.14.2019 0

Democrats’ star witness Ambassador George Kent admits Ukraine, Burisma are corrupt and needed to be investigated

By Robert Romano

One of Democrats’ star witnesses, Deputy Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs George Kent, admitted in testimony on Nov. 13 that the Ukrainian natural gas firm, Burisma Holdings, is corrupt, the head of the company awarded gas exploration leases to himself when he was in government, is assumed to have bribed prosecutors to make the case go away and that he favored that Ukraine investigate to “find who … the corrupt prosecutor was.”

This is the same company President Donald Trump sought to have Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky “look into” on July 25, and now House Democrats want to have him impeached because of it. Why?

Hunter Biden, former Vice President Joe Biden’s son, served on the Board of Directors from 2014 to 2019.

And Joe Biden brags he had the Ukrainian Prosecutor General, Viktor Shokin, who says he was investigating Burisma and wanted Hunter Biden questioned, fired by threatening $1.2 billion of loan guarantees to Ukraine. In the phone call with Zelensky, Trump said, “It sounds horrible to me.”

After the owner of Burisma, Mykola Zlochevsky, had his home raided by Ukrainian prosecutors in 2016, Burisma reached out via a lobbyist to the State Department demanding to know why Washington, D.C. thought it was corrupt, using the fact that Hunter Biden served on the board, according to a response to a Freedom of Information Act request made by John Solomon.

“Per our conversation, Karen Tramontano of Blue Star Strategies requested a meeting to discuss with U/S Novelli USG remarks alleging Burisma (Ukrainian energy company) of corruption,” a Feb. 24, 2016, email states. “She noted that two high profile U.S. citizens are affiliated with the company (including Hunter Biden as a board member).” That was shortly before Biden had Shokin fired.

In an affidavit in a European court, Shokin testified, “The truth is that I was forced out because I was leading a wide-ranging corruption probe into Burisma Holdings, a natural gas firm active in Ukraine and Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, was a member of the Board of Directors… On several occasions President Poroshenko asked me to have a look at the case against Burisma and consider the possibility of winding down the investigative actions in respect of this company but I refused to close this investigation.”

Shokin’s application for a travel visa to the U.S. was denied by the State Department after Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani pushed to get it approved in January so Shokin could share his story about being fired by Biden.

That’s all in the public record. Burisma is corrupt, had prominent Americans serving on the board to try to get the U.S. on its side and is suspected of previously bribing prosecutors. Trump is right, it does look horrible.

But to hear Democrats tell it, Burisma was as clean as the driven snow. The reason to investigate was not because of corruption, but because Trump wanted to “get” Biden. Any investigation of Burisma makes Biden look bad, and Trump look good. That any investigation was therefore baseless. That’s the only way their claim of abuse of power works.


 

The anonymous CIA so-called whistleblower in his Aug. 12 complaint wrote that the purpose of Trump’s call was to “initiate or continue an investigation into the activities of former Vice President Joseph Biden and his son, Hunter Biden” to “solicit interference from a foreign country in the 2020 U.S. election.”

But Kent’s own testimony rips that idea to pieces. According to him, there was very good reason to look at Burisma for reasons unrelated to the election. The owner of the company, “Mr. [Mykola] Zlochevsky was Minister of Energy from 2010 to 2012 under the pro-Russian government,” said Kent, adding, “And he used the regulatory authority to award gas exploration licenses to companies that he himself, controlled. That would be considered an act of corruption in my view, yes… Certainly self-dealing and self-enriching.”

Steve Castor, who is handling Republican questioning in the House impeachment, asked, “He [Zlochevsky] essentially paid a bribe to make the case go away?”

To which, Kent replied, “That is our strong assumption. Yes, sir.”

Castor asked, “Are you in favor of that matter being fully investigated and prosecuted?”

Kent replied, “I think that since the U.S. taxpayer dollars were wasted, I would love to see the Ukrainian prosecutor general’s office find who … the corrupt prosecutor was, that took the bribe, and how much it was paid and that is what I said on July 23rd, 2015.”

Which is precisely what Ukrainian prosecutors told Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani were looking into. They wanted to provide information to U.S. Attorney General William Barr of potential violations of U.S. laws.

Kent even expressed concerns about Hunter Biden’s role at Burisma, saying, “Later, I became aware that Hunter Biden was on the board of Burisma. Soon after that, in a briefing call with the national security staff in the Office of the Vice President, in February 2015, I raised my concern that Hunter Biden’s status as board member could create the perception of a conflict of interest.”

Maybe Kent should be impeached, too, for demanding accountability for corruption in Ukraine and expressing concerns about Biden’s role in the company, which is all Trump did.

On Sept. 26, John Solomon also reported at the Hill that Ukrainian prosecutors had been attempting to get the information about Burisma and Biden to the Justice Department since 2018, worried U.S. laws had been violated: “Ukrainian prosecutors say they have tried to get this information to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) since the summer of 2018, fearing it might be evidence of possible violations of U.S. ethics laws.”

Former Ukrainian Prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko in a Sept. 29 BBC interview confirmed concerns about Burisma and the Bidens that prosecutors wished to convey to the Justice Department were that they possibly violated U.S. laws, not Ukrainian laws, saying he told that to Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani: “I told him the same I told you — it is not my jurisdiction… It is likely to be the jurisdiction of the U.S. If you will send me a request, yes, I will give you all official information, but it is not Ukrainian jurisdiction — that was my answer.” As for Burisma, Lutsenko said, any “possible embezzlement” at Burisma “happened two or three years before Hunter Biden became a member of the board.”

The investigation of Burisma reportedly ended toward the end of the year by Lutsenko, Shokin’s successor, before being reopened by Nazar Kholodnytsky in 2018, and the push to get information of supposed potential violations of U.S. law to the Justice Department began.

Most importantly, Ukrainian President Zelensky said on Sept. 25 in a joint press conference with President Trump that “Nobody pushed me,” and that there was no pressure put upon him, and that he was not even aware that U.S. military assistance to Ukraine had been paused.

In the July 25 conversation, he told President Trump he thought the investigation was legitimate and essential to his administration. After Trump brought up Burisma and Biden’s role in getting Ukraine’s own prosecutor fired, Zelensky replied confirming the investigation, “I understand and I’m knowledgeable about the situation… Since we have won the absolute majority in our Parliament, the next prosecutor general will be 100 percent my person, my candidate, who will be approved by the parliament and will start as new prosecutor in September. He or she will look into the situation, specifically to the company that you mentioned in this issue. The issue of the investigation of the case is actually the issue of making sure to restore the honesty so we will take care of that and work on the investigation of the case.”

So if getting to the bottom of Burisma corruption and concerns about Shokin being removed by Biden were shared in the U.S. and Ukraine, Trump is perfectly within the scope of his powers to raise the issue in a phone call. Coupled together with revelations that the false allegations by intelligence agencies and the Justice Department that Trump and his campaign were Russian agents in 2016 originated in part in Ukraine, leading to 3-year investigation that tore this country in half, Trump has a duty to reexamine the U.S. relationship with Ukraine.

Are they a reliable ally or not? As the President, Trump has the power to decide that. The President also can make or not make treaties or executive agreements with foreign countries. He can pause military assistance when considering rescinding those funds. Don’t like it? Win an election, but exercising legitimate executive powers under Article II is not an impeachable offense, and neither is a disagreement over U.S. policy with Ukraine.

Under Article II, Section 3 of the Constitution, President Trump “shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed…”

Remarkably, Democrats want Trump removed from office for doing precisely that. And that the rule of law should not apply to the Bidens, because they say that would interfere in the elections. “No one is above the law,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) ironically shouts as justification. Does it sound stupid when Democrats say it?

Robert Romano is the Vice President of Public Policy at Americans for Limited Government.

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