The Justice Department is investigating a Democratic consulting firm with ties to Hunter Biden for potential illegal lobbying, according to a new report.
Blue Star Strategies did work for the Ukrainian energy company Burisma while Hunter Biden served on its board. Biden’s work on that board became a campaign issue last year after President Donald Trump repeatedly railed against it at his rallies, accusing both Hunter and Joe Biden of corruption.
The probe of the firm, as reported by Politico, comes as the Justice Department ramps up its scrutiny of the efforts by foreign governments to influence U.S. politics through lobbying.
Most of the federal probes were focused on Trump allies, including Rudy Giuliani and his work in the Ukraine.
But the inclusion of Blue Star indicates there could be trouble for Democrats as well.
Hunter Biden is under investigation for his taxes but has denied any wrong doing with those or with his work for Burisma. President Biden has not been accused of any wrong doing and has said the DoJ will be an independent agency that decides its own investigations.
There is no indication Hunter is being targeted as part of the Blue Star probe. Karen Tramontano, one of Blue Star’s co-founders, testified before the Senate in August 2020 that Hunter Biden did not direct any of the firm’s work for Burisma, Politico reported.
But the firm did use Hunter Biden’s name to secure a meeting with State Department officials in 2016 as it worked to improve Burisma’s standing in the eyes of the US government, the Wall Street Journal reported. It was unclear if Hunter knew he was being name dropped.
The Justice Department is investigating a Democratic consulting firm with ties to Hunter Biden for potential illegal lobbying
Joe Biden (second from right) and his son, Hunter (far right), golfing in the Hamptons with Devon Archer (far left), who served on the board of Burisma with Hunter. The photo from 2014 emerged during the presidential campaign
President Joe Biden walks with his son Hunter Biden, left, Hunter Biden’s wife Melissa Cohen and son Beau, in March
Blue Star Strategies was founded by Karen Tramontano and Sally Painter, two well connected Clinton administration alumni; it’s Washington DC headquarters are above
One focus of the investigation is whether Blue Star failed to comply with disclosure requirements under the Foreign Agents Registration Act. That law requires Americans to disclose lobbying and public affairs work for foreign officials and political parties.
The act has come to the forefront in these probes. Paul Manafort, who was pardoned by Trump, was investigated for his work for foreign leaders. Giuliani is also being investigated under the act.
Blue Star Strategies was founded by Tramontano and Sally Painter, two Clinton administration alumni. It describes itself as an international consulting firm.
The company has offices around the world including Brussels, Buenos Aires, Paris, London and Hanoi.
Hunter Biden is not part of the federal probe into Blue Star Strategies
The two founders are well-connected Democrats. Their clients include US and foreign corporations, according to its website, but also foreign governments.
Their work includes Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, and Slovakia on accession to the NATO Alliance, European Union, Euro zone, OECD, and the U.S. visa waiver program.
‘We’ve helped political leaders from Argentina to Ukraine and Albania to Venezuela improve their bilateral relations with the United States at the highest levels,’ the company website states.
Their work with Burisma is the focus of the DoJ probe. It was not disclosed in federal lobbying databases.
The work began in November 2015. Hunter Biden was on the board at the time. He didn’t quit the board until the 2020 presidential campaign, when his work became a political hot potato.
Devon Archer, who co-founded an investment firm with Hunter Biden and served on Burisma’s board with him, connected Blue Star to Burisma, according to Tramontano’s Senate testimony.
Blue Star’s work was involved with Burisma’s struggle with British authorities over millions of dollars seized by the British government.
Mykola Zlochevsky headed Burisma. He also was the country’s former natural resources minister while he controlled Burisma. In his government job he oversaw all energy companies, including Burisma.
In April 2014, British law enforcement officials seized $23 million from Zlochevsky, saying it had been corruptly misappropriated.
Blue Star Strategies co-founder Sally Painter is a well connected Democratic operative. Painter, third from left, is seen above with singer Nick Jonas and movie star Priyanka Chopra
But a British judge ruled in January of 2015 that Zlochevsky could get his money back. The Guardian wrote extensively on the case.
Then-U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt criticized Burisma, which led to their hiring of Blue Star.
As part of its work, Tramontano met with an undersecretary of state, Catherine Novelli, on March 1, 2016, the Journal reported. During the meeting, she mentioned Biden served on Brisma’s board, a former State Department official familiar with the discussion told the paper.
Tramontano also told the State Department that Burisma hadn’t engaged in corruption and wanted to change the view of the company in Washington.