Hunter Biden investigation: Biden accusers face accusations of their own

Hunter Biden
Hunter and Joe Biden. (Andrew Harnik/AP)

Hunter Biden investigation: Biden accusers face accusations of their own

Video Embed

Several people who claim to have knowledge of the Biden family’s work with foreign companies have faced criminal charges, sanctions, or coordinated efforts to label them as corrupt.

President Joe Biden’s allies have used the incidents to dismiss any evidence of wrongdoing that the implicated people claim to possess.


His critics have been more willing to seek out information from some of the witnesses under scrutiny for alleged wrongdoing connected to their overseas work.

And some of the witnesses themselves claim they’ve been targeted specifically because they threaten President Joe Biden’s political fortunes.

One is Gal Luft, an Israeli American citizen who faces federal charges over alleged illegal lobbying for the same Chinese company that paid Hunter Biden and Joe Biden’s brother, James.

Another is Andrii Telizhenko, a former official at the Ukrainian Embassy in the United States who worked on lobbying for Burisma. Telizhenko faces Treasury Department sanctions for allegedly spreading Russian disinformation in order to influence the 2020 election.

Still another is Andrii Derkach, a former member of the Ukrainian parliament who has been labeled a Russian agent by the intelligence community, accused of interfering in the 2020 election, and, last year, indicted on money laundering charges.

Some of the people facing scrutiny from the U.S. government had working relationships with the Obama administration before they claimed to know details about the Bidens’ foreign ties, suggesting that at some point, U.S. officials may have considered them credible.

To Joe Biden’s supporters, the crimes these alleged witnesses are accused of committing bolster their view that only conspiracy theorists believe the Biden family engaged in corruption abroad.

To his opponents, the accusations of corruption surrounding people who say they have knowledge of the Biden family business dealings bolster their view that the transactions were inherently corrupt.


A handful of people who say they knew of problems with Burisma, the Ukrainian energy company that paid Hunter Biden $83,000 per month to sit on its board, have faced charges of spreading Russian disinformation.

Oleksandr Onyshschenko, for example, was a former member of the Ukrainian parliament who also faces U.S. sanctions for allegedly attempting to meddle in the 2020 election.

But long before that, Onyshschenko began blowing the whistle in Ukraine about what he claimed was corruption in the administration of then-President Petro Poroshenko, the Ukrainian leader who ultimately heeded then-Vice President Joe Biden’s demand that he fire the Ukrainian prosecutor investigating Burisma.

One of Onyshschenko’s claims involved what he said was a scheme Poroshenko orchestrated to extract money from Burisma, along with another major energy company in Ukraine, using his prosecutors. Onyshschenko claimed the Ukrainian president had used the prosecutor general to go after assets held by Burisma’s founder, Mykola Zlochevsky, in an attempt to extract a bribe from Zlochevsky.

Onyshschenko claimed in 2016 to have shared his evidence with the FBI.

And the Obama administration appeared to believe at the time that Zlochevsky did, in fact, pay a bribe to free his assets from Poroshenko’s grip, just as Onyshschenko claimed.

According to records released in 2020 by Senate Republicans, a high-level Obama State Department official wrote in an August 2016 email that Zlochevsky had “almost certainly paid off” Ukrainian prosecutors in December 2014 to unfreeze his assets. The Obama administration had been told the bribe was as high as $7 million, according to the emails.

Onyshschenko has said publicly that Burisma hired Hunter Biden to protect itself from scrutiny.

The Obama Department of Justice confirmed that it met with Onyshschenko in 2016; however, a spokesman for the Justice Department told RadioFreeEurope in December of that year that it “has no plans to have further meetings or communications with Mr. Onyshschenko.”

Onyshschenko claimed to have had fairly extensive contact with the U.S. government as he went public with allegations of corruption against the Poroshenko administration, which, in turn, was charging Onyshschenko himself with corruption at the time.

He told the Kyiv Post in 2016 that he had an agreement with the U.S. government signed by a Justice Department attorney for Andrew Weissman, at the time the head of the DOJ’s fraud division. Weissmann went on to play a prominent role in investigating former President Donald Trump during the Russian collusion probe.

But whatever relationship Onyshschenko may have had with the U.S. government appeared to sour quickly.

In the final days of the Trump administration, the Treasury Department sanctioned Onyshschenko for attempting to influence the 2020 election after he allegedly “provided edited audio tape copies of purported audio recordings of conversations between former Ukrainian and U.S. officials.”

The audio recordings appear to be portions of private conversations between then-Vice President Joe Biden and then-Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko.

In the recordings, which U.S. intelligence officials slammed as heavily edited without denying their authenticity and which the Biden campaign in 2020 petitioned to have removed from social media, Poroshenko is allegedly heard thanking Joe Biden for “handling” Onyshschenko, according to an independent Ukrainian news site, and Joe Biden is allegedly heard assuring Poroshenko that although the FBI had spoken to Onyshschenko, the Justice Department planned to dig no further into his claims.

Internal emails suggest that around the time the phone call was allegedly recorded in late 2016, State Department officials were keeping tabs on what Onyshschenko was saying publicly about Poroshenko, then the Ukrainian president, and Burisma.

In a Dec. 29, 2016 email, then-U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch flagged to high-level Obama administration aides that Onyshschenko was “in the news again” in Ukraine, this time for claiming that Burisma found “a way to pay bribes” to avoid pressure from the Ukrainian government.

Yovanovitch noted in the email, which was released recently by the National Archives, that Hunter Biden had been mentioned in the Ukrainian news article due to his role on the Burisma board.

Onyshschenko now reportedly lives in Macedonia.

Whether Onyshschenko was, in fact, corrupt and operating under Russian influence remains unclear. Notably, however, Germany refused an extradition request from Ukraine for him in 2020 because German officials could not determine whether the charges against him were politically motivated.


Andrii Derkach, another former member of the Ukrainian parliament, has faced even more severe punishments from the U.S. government for his role in disseminating the tapes from Onyshschenko. Derkach also met with Trump’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, in 2019, as Giuliani was digging into alleged Biden family corruption in Ukraine.

Derkach claimed to have knowledge of Joe Biden’s involvement in his son’s work for Burisma. At a press conference in 2020, he leaked the tapes that, the Treasury Department claimed, Onyshschenko obtained.

The U.S. government has said Derkach is a Russian agent and sanctioned him for alleged meddling in the 2020 election because he made claims about Joe Biden’s involvement in business dealings during the race.

In December of last year, the Justice Department also indicted Derkach for alleged money laundering and sanctions violations over two apartments Derkach was said to have owned in California.

Andrii Telizhenko was also sanctioned in January 2021 for alleged election meddling.

But at the height of Hunter Biden’s work with Burisma, which began in 2014, Telizhenko was a contractor for the Democratic lobbying firm Hunter Biden had brought in to help with his work for Burisma.

Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Ron Johnson (R-WI) wrote in their 2020 report about the Biden family business that when they interviewed two executives at the lobbying firm, Blue Star Strategies, neither would provide documents related to Telizhenko’s work with their firm, nor would they release him from the non-disclosure agreement he had signed to work for them.

Telizhenko met with Obama administration officials at least 10 times, the Senate Republicans said in their report, maintaining the closest ties to the administration in 2015 and 2016. These were crucial years for both Burisma and Joe Biden’s role in Ukrainian policy.

The two Blue Star Strategies executives provided no records of their work with Telizhenko to congressional investigators; instead, Telizhenko provided emails, and those messages showed just how closely Telizhenko worked on the Burisma account.

For example, in one exchange, Telizhenko coached the Democratic lobbyists on how to approach the Ukrainian prosecutor general’s office to secure a meeting with the country’s new leading prosecutor, who had recently replaced Viktor Shokin, the prosecutor Joe Biden succeeded in having fired.

Telizhenko had reason to know how the Ukrainian prosecutor general’s office worked: he reportedly worked under Shokin’s predecessor, the one accused of accepting a bribe from Burisma founder Zlochevsky, in the same office.

But by 2020, Telizhenko was also labeled a purveyor of disinformation and punished by the U.S. government. He had his American visa rejected in October 2020 and by January 2021 was labeled an election meddler and hit with U.S. sanctions.

Telizhenko had reportedly met with Giuliani and shared information about Hunter Biden’s work with Burisma. He has labeled himself a whistleblower.

GOP senators had plans to subpoena Telizhenko in 2020 as they investigated Hunter Biden’s work in Burisma; however, the lawmakers ultimately did not do so amid claims that Telizhenko was peddling Russian disinformation.


Luft, the Israeli American citizen who faces criminal charges related to alleged foreign lobbying, was a person of interest to House Oversight Committee investigators who wanted to know more about his claims regarding the Biden family business in China.

Luft has claimed that he spoke at length with FBI and Justice Department officials in March 2019 about the Biden family’s work with CEFC, a Chinese company that pursued deals with Hunter Biden and James Biden.

In November, however, Luft was charged with violations of the Foreign Agents Registration Act for allegedly conducting illegal work with CEFC, and in July, the Justice Department at last unsealed the indictment.

Luft’s indictment suggested the U.S. government believed CEFC was covertly working to gain influence in American political circles, raising concerns about why the Chinese conglomerate appeared so interested in forming relationships with the Biden family.

Luft has argued that the charges against him are politically motivated and were brought because he contacted the Justice Department with allegations about payments the Biden family allegedly received from CEFC.

He remains at large and said in July that he does not believe he would receive a fair trial in New York, the jurisdiction in which he was charged. Luft cited the 2018 trial of Patrick Ho, a former representative of CEFC, as evidence his trial would not be fair; in Ho’s trial, the Justice Department successfully forbid any mention of the Biden family’s work for CEFC, even though Ho had paid Hunter Biden $1 million shortly after his arrest.


At least one of Luft’s specific allegations has since been corroborated. Luft says he told the FBI and Justice Department officials he met with in March 2019 about a meeting with CEFC officials, Joe Biden, and Hunter Biden at the Four Seasons hotel; when FBI agents interviewed Rob Walker, a former business partner of Hunter Biden’s, Walker confirmed the meeting took place.

The same FBI agent who, Luft says, traveled to meet him in Brussels in March 2019 also interviewed Walker and played a role on the Hunter Biden criminal investigation.

© 2023 Washington Examiner
Facebook Comments