Donald Trump’s DOJ Shut Down a Burisma Corruption Investigation Opened while Joe Biden Was VP

Right in the middle of an impeachment for extorting Volodymyr Zelenskyy to dig up dirt on the Bidens and Burisma, Bill Barr’s DOJ shut down a corruption investigation into Burisma’s Mykola Zlochevsky.

Then, days later, Barr set up a process that would insert an allegation that Zlochevsky bribed Joe Biden into the ongoing investigation of Hunter Biden.

That is — by far — the most scandalous allegation that has come out of the Jamie Comer and Jim Jordan-led effort to gin up an impeachment of Joe Biden. Bill Barr’s DOJ shut down an investigation into Zlochevsky’s corruption, and then mainlined an allegation of corruption involving Zlochevsky into the investigation of Joe Biden’s son.

To be fair, the claim that Bill Barr’s DOJ shut down a corruption investigation of Zlochevsky didn’t come from Comer or Jordan. It came from Chuck Grassley.

In a letter Grassley sent Merrick Garland on October 23, he described what he knew about the genesis of an FD-1023 he and Comer released during the summer. He described that the 2017 informant report that included a mention of Hunter Biden and led Scott Brady to reinterview that informant in June 2020 came from a Kleptocracy investigation — a bribery investigation — into Mykola Zlochevsky which “was opened in January 2016 by a Foreign Corrupt Practices Act FBI squad based out of the FBI’s Washington Field Office.”

While Joe Biden was Vice President and his son was on the board of Burisma, according to Chuck Grassley, DOJ opened a corruption investigation into Burisma’s owner.

That corruption investigation into Mykola Zlochevsky was shut down — again, per Chuck Grassley — around five months after Donald Trump tried to extort the President of Ukraine for dirt on the Bidens and Burisma and just two months after Rudy Giuliani planned to fly to Vienna to get dirt on Hunter Biden from Dmitry Firtash and a Burisma executive. Grassley described that it was shut down in the very same month, December 2019, the House voted to impeach Donald Trump for soliciting dirt on the Bidens and Burisma, the same month that IRS and FBI obtained a laptop purported to be owned by Hunter Biden — followed, a day later, by Barr’s aides telling him they were sending him a laptop.

“[I]n December 2019, the FBI Washington Field Office closed a “205B” Kleptocracy case, 205B[redacted] Serial 7, into Mykola Zlochevsky, owner of Burisma,” Chuck Grassley revealed.

Weeks or days after that investigation was (again, per Grassley) shut down, on January 3, 2020, Bill Barr set up a process by which dirt on Hunter Biden — in part, dirt that Rudy Giuliani obtained from a known Russian agent, Andrii Derkach, and possibly even dirt that Rudy obtained directly from Burisma, dirt that was once pitched to include a laptop from Hunter Biden — could be shared with the ongoing investigation of Hunter  Biden.

On January 3, 2020, Seth DuCharme “discreetly” tasked the US Attorney for Pittsburgh, Scott Brady, to accept the information from Rudy. But Brady did more than that. He did a search on Hunter Biden and Burisma — or maybe it was Zlochevsky and Burisma, he claimed not to remember in his testimony before the House Judiciary Committee — which led his team to discover the 2017 informant report. That’s the process that led to the re-interview of an informant used in 2017 in that Zlochevsky investigation, which led to the report that in 2019 that Zlochevsky claimed to have made payments to Joe Biden that were so well hidden it would take ten years to find. Unbelievably, FBI failed to write down the date when Zlochevsky made that claim, even though Scott Brady testified his team learned the precise details surrounding the informant’s travel to London where he had the conversation; it had to have happened relatively late in 2019, probably during the impeachment investigation.

As Lev Parnas and anyone else who knows these details remotely well will tell you, that claim from Zlochevsky was a new claim. When Rudy sent questions to Zlochevsky during the spring of that year, Zlochevsky said that Hunter Biden had never lobbied for Burisma.

At a meeting of the BLT Team, Giuliani and Solomon came up with a series of 12-14 questions about the Bidens that we would propose to Zlochevsky. Eventually, we managed to get Zlochevsky’s answers back. But his answers gave us nothing – because there was nothing. On reading Zlochevsky’s reply, Giuliani turned red and yelled, “What is this shit? This is bullshit. Make sure nobody sees this. Bury this.”

I will remind you that Zlochevsky’s answers are in the report that the House Oversight Committee published. In this document, he stated that Hunter Biden was never asked or assigned to speak with anybody in the U.S. on behalf of Burisma, that there were no political or lobbying efforts on behalf of Burisma, that nobody from the company had ever spoken to Joe Biden, and that Hunter Biden was essentially innocent of what people had been implying. His letter debunked all the conspiracy theories.

The truth is Burisma tried to compromise Joe Biden, with Vadym Pozharskyi making much, for example, of a 2015 World Food Program dinner to which Biden dropped in to meet someone else. And a lobbying campaign by Blue Star Strategies set up through Devon Archer and run by Eric Schwerin did push Ukraine to halt its investigation into Zlochevsky. It did set up two meetings for Zlochevsky’s attorney in the United States. Here’s how BSS described that effort in a filing submitted retroactively in 2022.

Registrant was asked in 2016 to help schedule meetings with U.S. Government officials so counsel for Mr. Zlochevsky could present an explanation of certain adverse proceedings in the U.K. and Ukraine involving Mr. Zlochevsky. Registrant scheduled 2 meetings, and a representative of registrant accompanied counsel for Mr. Zlochevsky to the meetings. Registrant did not have a written agreement or letter creating any engagement on behalf of Mr. Zlochevsky, and no compensation for Blue Star Strategies’ assistance was provided by Mr. Zlochevsky.

In an October 2016 email not involving Hunter Biden (who had a role in setting up the relationship with BSS, but not once they were brought in), BSS noted — and took credit for — Ukraine halting the investigation into Zlochevsky.

According to Chuck Grassley, by that point, DOJ under Obama had opened its own investigation into Zlochevsky.

In spring 2019, Zlochevsky said he had no dirt on Joe Biden but — again according to Lev Parnas — he said he could get dirt, possibly in the form of a laptop, if Rudy could do something to “curry favor” at DOJ. And then, in the same month that DOJ obtained a Hunter Biden laptop, DOJ shut down the investigation into Zlochevsky. And around the same time, Zlochevsky randomly offered up to an FBI informant, for the first time, that he had bribed Joe Biden.

Here’s the thing that Chuck Grassley doesn’t understand. It makes no sense to shut down a corruption investigation into the head of Burisma, then interview an informant about what he knows of corruption allegations involving the head of Burisma. (Remember, at the time, the US Attorney for EDNY served as a gatekeeper for any investigations pertaining to Ukrainian corruption, so to reopen that investigation, DC would have had to get EDNY’s approval.) If you care about corruption allegations, you pursue both sides of that, the guy alleged to be making the bribe along with the guy whose bank accounts and public actions show no sign of accepting one.

Unless the guy alleged to be making the bribe only made the allegation after being bribed to do so.

This claim is not coming from Hunter Biden’s attorney Abbe Lowell. It’s not Jamie Raskin claiming that Barr shut down a bribery investigation into Burisma. It’s Chuck Grassley making the claim.

Bill Barr’s DOJ shut down a bribery investigation into Mykola Zlochevsky in December 2019. And then days later, on January 3, 2020, he set up a way to get a claim that Mykola Zlochevsky had bribed Joe Biden injected into the investigation of Hunter Biden.

40 replies
  1. MsJennyMD says:

    To all my colleagues at the Department of Justice, let me say that it is a privilege to serve with you. I will do all I can to support your work in advancing the cause of justice.
    William Barr

  2. scroogemcduck says:

    Excellent analysis, as ever. You are getting ever closer to the smoking gun that the entire Hunter Biden investigation is a Trump-era opposition-research project, federally funded to the tune of millions of dollars.

    “In spring 2019, Zlochevsky said he had no dirt on Joe Biden but — again according to Lev Parnas — he said he could get dirt, possibly in the form of a laptop, if Rudy could do something to “curry favor” at DOJ. And then, in the same month that DOJ obtained a Hunter Biden laptop, DOJ shut down the investigation into Zlochevsky. And around the same time, Zlochevsky randomly offered up to an FBI informant, for the first time, that he had bribed Joe Biden.”
    Of course, it is very unlikely that that was random.

  3. DinnerAtAntoine’s says:

    So if I understand this correctly, the US did have an investigation of Burisma after all, but as it was closing – & btw Ukraine had closed its Burisma investigation in 2016 IIRC – & on the verge of seeing Trump leave office, DuCharme (read Barr) took steps to ensure their prized disinformation would not be lost but would be reinvigorated via USA-Pittsburgh to be exhumed later by GOP politicos when the Hunter claims were exploited in Congress. Hence Grassley magically “discovering” the form 1023.

    I’ll add Grassley made a blanket demand for all 1023’s in fall (September-October?) of 2022, probably just to subsume this one. When they didn’t get the one they were expecting they realized they’d wrongly worded their request so they got extremely specific about what they wanted, hence the chase for this specific interview into early 2023.

    Thank you for the great work!

    • scroogemcduck says:

      Possibly, or possibly Barr wanted DOJ to get its mitts on the disinfo, but it wouldn’t be handed to the go-between (Rudy) until after the investigation into Burisma had been closed down. And, bonus, the disinfo would then not be tainted as being sourced from someone who was under current DOJ investigation. Hey presto, and an investigation into Burisma corruption has been magically transformed into an investigation into Hunter Biden corruption, just in time for the 2020 election.

    • Rethfernhim says:

      In Jan 2020, Trump was not “on the verge of” leaving office – the primary season was ramping up, and Trump was preparing his fall campaign against Joe Biden. This was a political campaign effort.

        • Rethfernhim says:

          There are so many characters, and so many moving parts, keeping track of the timeline is nearly impossible. I had to double check before I posted!

          I imagine Marcy has world-class spreadsheets/corkboards/flow charts that are true works of art.

    • zscoreUSA says:

      Is this the blanket demand for 1023s by Grassley?

      Letter to Wray, Garland, Weiss 10/17/22.

      3. The full and unredacted October 2020 document that lists a timeline of events associated with Hunter Biden’s business associates, foreign and domestic.

      4. All records relating to the May 2, 2017, and May 3, 2017, meetings between Tony Bobulinski and Joe Biden.

      5. All records,[7] including FD-71, FD-209a, FD-302, FD-794b, FD-1023, FD-1040a, FD-1057 and Guardian leads, from January 1, 2014 to the date of this letter that reference Mykola Zlochevsky, Hunter Biden, James Biden and Joe Biden.

  4. LizardLeaning says:

    Darn, surprised this & its implications didn’t come up in the candidate debate last night. Shocking

    On second thought, maybe it doesn’t stack up against gratuitous debased insults.

    [Welcome back to emptywheel. Please use the same username and email address each time you comment so that community members get to know you. This is your fifth username; you have previously published comments here as Wry6read, Echo Layla, wry6read (case matters), and what appears to be your RL name. Pick a name and stick with it as changing names arbitrarily is sockpuppeting and not permitted here. /~Rayne]

  5. ApacheTrout says:

    Would there be a written order shutting down the investigation, and then reopening it with a new information/direction? It’d be nice to not have to rely on Grassley’s claims.

    • JVOJVOJVO says:

      I’m betting there is a whole lotta veryifying going on right now. It’s hunting season and Elmer Grassly Fudd has unloaded with the tastiest bait!

  6. Upisdown says:

    The involvement of Vadym Pozharskyi remains a mystery to me. He is identified as a Burisma “executive”. To what extent was he considered part of the corruption probe? What was his relationship to the board of directors? How exactly does Pozharskyi’s presence at the Food Program dinner (or lack thereof) implicate Joe Biden in Burisma corruption that was mostly centered around Zlochevsky personally?

  7. DinnerAtAntoine’s says:

    Hold on – we still don’t know the informant though, do we? It’s not Zlochevsky himself, it’s someone – supposedly a former executive or their spouse? – who said Zlochevsky made the bribery claim. Right?

    • DinnerAtAntoine’s says:

      So are you also saying Zlochevsky offered up this claim in exchange for DOJ to drop the investigation?

      I dunno about all that. Any investigation was weak to begin with, it was based on his self dealing energy licenses as essentially Minister of Energy/Resources around 2011 or 2013 or so IIRC. Once UA dropped the investigation what was there to investigate?

        • DinnerAtAntoine’s says:

          I defer to you of course, but from my understanding it’s based on prior reporting of the Ukraine investigation into Zlochevsky. As I understand it the whole thrust was the transfer of the energy licenses. That predated the revamping of the board & that UA investigation was hindered by the failures & obstruction of Prosecutors General like Shokin but also before him.

          You’re obviously correct about not knowing the nature of the investigation, but also Zlochevsky felt comfortable enough to travel to the US at one point. It was apparently largely centered around sanctions as far as the US was concerned. The UK & Lithuania were more serious but were blunted, as we know, by Shokin & his predecessor.

  8. FiestyBlueBird says:

    Good job, Marcy.

    This piece, to me, seems like an easier to comprehend (in one read) pared-down version of what you posted the other day.

    You have so many things in your head…

    So you work fast.

    I dream of Marcy explaining this stuff on C-SPAN, NPR, PBS, Morning Joe, or 60 Minutes. A wider audience sure could be a good thing for America’s education.

    • Harry Eagar says:

      That was my point yesterday when I asked how all this enters the meta-brain of public opinion.

      Up to now, we are in the situation as it existed in 1972, when Hunter S. Thompson in Rolling Stone was writing that the Nixon campaign was crooked, but except for the few hippies who put down their bongs long enough to read Thompson, nobody knew.

    • JVOJVOJVO says:

      We agree 100% but something about leading a horse to the water trough but … yada yada yada hits me hard too

  9. bawiggans says:

    The peripatetic laptop making its appearance here causes me to wonder if perhaps someone hacked the contents of an actual Hunter Biden-owned laptop, imaged it onto a hard drive(s) and was shopping it (them) around the Biden oppo market as a really cool Trojan horse for whatever files a buyer might wish to add or alter and then gift to someone special. The term “laptop” seems to have gotten conflated with “hard drive purported to have been from Hunter Biden’s laptop” as the “evidence” has made its unorthodox way down the rusty chain of custody. So, we don’t really know if the laptop referred to in Rudy’s excellent adventure was even really a laptop or just another one of those hard drives that seem to be this year’s must-have in Republican circles.

    • emptywheel says:

      THat certainly seems to be Parnas’ theory. His theory doesn’t hold up, entirely. If I’m understanding the timing correctly, the trip to Kazakhstan was 2014. Much of the stuff on the laptop postdates that.

      My theory is that Hunter’s credentials compromised and with them, a laptop was packaged up in early 2019. I’ll write up some aspects of that package that made it especially lethal soon, hopefully.

      • zscoreUSA says:

        Yes the relevant trip would be 2014.

        But Parnas inserts it into a paragraph about 2019 and says “that year”, giving the impression that the laptop was compromised in 2019 and could be connected to the Mac Isaac or Costello devices. It leads people down a false narrative and I have seen people on social media with false expectations for how events will play out.

        A sleight of hand seems to be going on there.

  10. says:

    Anyone out there got a personal connection to the talent, or their staffs, recently cast in the primetime spots on CNN vacated by Cuomo and Lemon? These three bright, talented young ladies have an amazing new platform to make a difference in the world. Will they waste it by doing what’s been done in the past — just recycling the same content Burnett and Cooper cover in earler hours but with different guests. Or will they decide it’s time to INFORM THEIR AUDIENCES ABOUT SUBJECTS NOT COVERED currently in national TV media?

    If you’ve got conections, please forward them Marcy’s posts . . . and perhaps other ‘local’ news worthy of disinfection-through-national- TV-exposing-sunlight, like (for just one worthy example. . . ) how DeSantis’ election police’s failure to find and prosecute election fraud, has widely succeeded at its TRUE objective: completely reversing Florida’s re-enfranchisement of prior felons voting rights by instilling gripping fear of arrest and re-imprisonment for voting AFTER RECIEVING A SECRETARY OF STATE-ISSUED VOTER REGISTRATION CARD… or any of other widely successful DeSantis’s voter suppression, disenfranchisement, intimidation or dilution campaigns, or black voter registration 300% depression that corruptly turned the state red.

  11. jdmckay8 says:

    Wow. The puzzle is beginning to take shape very nicely.

    It is amazing what you have done, Marcy. Amazing, as in all the news services/congress critters and staffers and everyone else in related media have not produced even a whiff of what now is unfolding clearly through your work. It’s like a modern day Marcy & Goliath, with words instead of stones.

    I had a mentor for a few years in my late 20’s. One of finest, wisest and competent-in-life people I have ever known. He (almost literally) opened my eyes in so many ways. He walked his talk. One of his nuggets I have never forgotten, and has served me well a few times when I was at some kind of impasse: “Enlightenment is the ability to make distinctions.”

    I think you are really, very god damned Enlightened… in the best of ways.

    One curiosity from your d-i-s-c-r-e-e-t post: you said “There will be an impeachment”. I read that as you are certain. I’ve followed everything wrt to that so far pretty closely, and have current notion it could happen & I’ll see how it goes. I’m curious why you are certain of this (if I am reading you correctly). Unless it’s just the unstoppable momentum of over-the-top-stupid (eg. Comer & co.), I must be missing something.

    Thx again for all you do.

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