House Democrats on Thursday released a transcript they claim exonerates President Joe Biden of allegations that he took bribes from a Ukrainian oligarch. But there’s a major flaw in their evidence.
Rep. Jamie Raskin (D., Md.), the ranking member of the House Oversight Committee, released a transcript of a conversation that Burisma Holdings owner Mykola Zlochevsky had in 2019 regarding his company’s relationship with Hunter Biden. Raskin’s release was a rebuttal to Republican inquiries regarding an FBI informant who told the bureau that Zlochevsky boasted of paying $10 million in bribes to Hunter Biden and then-Vice President Joe Biden.
According to the transcript, Zlochevsky denied having any conversations with Joe Biden as vice president or paying any bribes. Zlochevsky also claimed that "no one from Burisma ever had any contacts with VP Biden or people working for him during Hunter Biden’s engagement."
But this claim is false, raising questions about the veracity of Zlochevsky’s statement. Emails from Hunter Biden’s laptop show Burisma executive Vadym Pozharskyi met Joe Biden at a charity event in Washington, D.C., in 2015. Pozharskyi, who served as Zlochevsky’s right-hand man at Burisma, thanked Hunter Biden in an email for "giving an opportunity to meet your father and spent [sic] some time together."
Republicans cited that email as evidence that Joe Biden had knowledge of his son’s business dealings. Since then, numerous other examples have emerged showing the elder Biden involved in his son’s affairs. Joe Biden attended at least two meetings with Hunter Biden that involved a deal with CEFC China Energy. And Hunter Biden sent a threatening text message in July 2017 to a CEFC executive in which he said he and his father were waiting together for a phone call to discuss an unpaid business agreement.
Republicans have acknowledged that they have not verified that Zlochevsky paid bribes. But they have asked the FBI whether the bureau investigated the claims.
While Raskin has questioned Republicans’ evidence, there is reason to be skeptical about the latest transcript.
According to Raskin, the transcript released Thursday is from a conversation between Zlochevsky and Lev Parnas, a former associate of Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani, who was convicted of fraud. Parnas claimed to have interviewed Zlochevsky as part of his investigation into Hunter Biden’s work for Burisma. It is unclear whether Zlochevsky was aware that Parnas was working at the time with Giuliani.