“Then-second son Hunter Biden coached then-Vice President Joe Biden’s press secretary on how to respond to media questions about him joining the board of Ukrainian natural gas company Burisma Holdings, emails reviewed by The Post show.
The May 13, 2014, exchanges between Hunter and Kendra Barkoff, which have not been previously reported, form the basis of a complaint sent to the Justice Department on Friday alleging that the Biden scion, now 53, violated federal law by failing to register as a foreign agent.
“In advising the Office of the Vice President how to respond to press inquiries about his appointment, Hunter Biden ‘represent[ed] the interests of [a] foreign principal before any agency or official of the Government of the United States,’” America First Legal Foundation general counsel Gene Hamilton wrote to the assistant attorney general for national security, Matthew Olsen, quoting the relevant statute.
Burisma announced Hunter Biden’s appointment to its board of directors on May 12, 2014. The following day, according to the complaint, Barkoff sent Hunter an email saying: “Thanks for talking to me. [L]et me know who I should refer folks to.”
“What exactly are they asking?” Hunter responded. “For the time being I’d just refer them to my office. FYI I joined the board of Burisma Holdings Ltd. (Burisma.com) an independent/private natural gas producer in Ukraine along with the former president of Poland. I think the press release is on their website.”
Barkoff then forwarded Hunter an email from Max Seddon, then a foreign correspondent at BuzzFeed News.
“Russian state media is loving this press release, supposedly from a Cypriot-held Ukrainian natural gas company, claiming that the Vice President’s son has joined its board of directors,” Seddon wrote, addressing then-National Security Council spokesperson Laura Lucas Magnuson, who had forwarded it to Barkoff.
“The news seems rather odd on its face and, if true, would present a fairly glaring conflict of interest given the VP’s role on Ukraine policy – particularly since the company is controlled by Nikolai Zlochevsky, who was energy minister and deputy NSC chief under [former pro-Moscow Ukrainian President Viktor] Yanukovych,” the reporter added. “Is this true? What exactly is going on here?”
“Interesting,” Hunter wrote back. “Burisma is completely independent of the Ukrainian government with an independent board of directors. [Zlochevsky] served as Minister of Ecology and resigned in 2010. I joined the board as legal adviser and Burisma also engaged the law firm I am of counsel to Boies Schiller Flexner on matters pertaining to corporate governance, transparency, and expansion. Alana Apter former head of Morgan Stanley Europe is chairman of the board.”
In addition to forwarding Seddon’s questions, Barkoff told Hunter: “Let me know who in your office” to refer media to.
“Eric‐ he’s cc’d here,” Hunter answered, referring to one of his business partners, Eric Schwerin — who chimed in: “Kendra, I am around the next few days if you need me.”
“If anything beyond referring questions to my office is required from you or counsel you can contact Heather King at Boise Schiller,” Hunter directed Barkoff, who later sent him the statement her office was putting out to the press. (Read more: New York Post, 3/03/2023) (Archive)