During President Trump’s impeachment, former U.S. Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch testified to Congress that she knew little beyond an initial briefing and “press reports” about Burisma Holdings, the Ukrainian natural gas firm that had hired Vice President Joe Biden’s son Hunter and was dogged by a corruption investigation.
“It just wasn’t a big deal,” she declared under oath on Oct. 11, 2019.
But newly unearthed State Department memos obtained under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) show Yovanovitch’s embassy in Kiev, including the ambassador herself, was engaged in several discussions and meetings about Burisma as the gas firm scrambled during the 2016 election and transition to settle a long-running corruption investigation and polish its image before President Trump took office.
Yovanovitch, for instance, was specifically warned in an email by her top deputy in September 2016 — three years before her testimony — that Burisma had hired an American firm with deep Democratic connections called Blue Star Strategies to “rehabilitate the reputation” of the Ukrainian gas firm and that it had placed “Hunter Biden on its board,” the memos show.
She also met directly with a representative for Burisma in her embassy office, less than 45 days before Trump took office, a contact she did not mention during her impeachment deposition.
The discussions about Burisma inside Yovanovitch’s embassy were so extensive, in fact, that they filled more than 160 pages of emails, memos and correspondence in fall 2016 alone, according to the State Department records obtained under FOIA by the conservative group Citizens United.
The contacts included a detailed private letter hand-delivered to Yovanovitch by one of Burisma’s lawyers in September 2016, a briefing later that month from her staff on Burisma’s issues, and a meeting scheduled between the ambassador and a Burisma representative shortly before Christmas 2016 as the Obama administration was preparing to leave office.
By John Solomon