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Democrats say document from Trump impeachment probe rebuts GOP claims about a Biden bribery scheme

An executive of Burisma, a Ukrainian firm that employed Hunter Biden, said in a 2019 questionnaire that no one at the company ever had contact with Joe Biden.
Rep. James Comer Jr., R-Ky., Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md.
Reps. James Comer, R-Ky., and Jamie Raskin, D-Md.AP

Democrats on the House Oversight Committee say they have unearthed a piece of evidence from the 2019 impeachment investigation into then-President Donald Trump that they say rebuts Republican claims of a possible bribery scheme between Joe Biden and a foreign national.

The document, released in a letter from Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., the committee's ranking member, to its chairman, Rep. James Comer, R-Ky., is a 2019 questionnaire filled out by Mykola Zlochevsky, the co-founder of the Ukrainian energy firm Burisma, where Biden’s son Hunter once served on the board. Zlochevsky denies ever having contacts with Joe Biden while he was vice president or receiving assistance from his staff while Hunter served on the board.

The questionnaire was given to Lev Parnas, an associate of Rudy Giuliani, who was serving as Trump’s personal lawyer. Giuliani had been seeking information about Biden ahead of the 2020 presidential election when Biden was expected to be one of the Democrats who might challenge Trump. Parnas handed over the questionnaire to the House committees investigating the former president, and it was later obtained by the FBI when it seized Parnas’ phone in 2019. It was never released to the public during the impeachment investigation.

When asked to detail contacts between then-Vice President Biden and his office from 2013 to 2019, Zlochevsky wrote (in all caps): “No one from Burisma ever had any contacts with VP Biden or people working for him during Hunter Biden's engagement." When asked whether Biden or his staff assisted Burisma in any way with business deals or meetings, he wrote, “NO.”

At the time, Parnas forwarded the entire document to Giuliani and another attorney, Victoria Toensing.

Democrats say the questionnaire provides critical context that casts doubt on allegations by Republicans that Biden profited off of his son’s business ventures or even received a bribe from a foreign national. In early May, Comer and Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said a whistleblower informed them that the FBI had a document known as an FD-1023 that included an unverified allegation from a human source who said Biden, when he was vice president, was involved in a bribery scheme involving a foreign national. 

During a floor speech in June after viewing the document, Grassley said, “The 1023 also indicates that then-Vice President Joe Biden may have been involved in Burisma employing Hunter Biden,” though neither Grassley nor Comer appear to have publicly stated that Zlochevsky was the foreign national in question.

In a letter to Comer, Raskin wrote, “These statements directly contradict and refute the allegations in the Form FD-1023."

"Mr. Zlochevsky’s statements are just one of the many that have debunked the corruption allegations against President Biden that were first leveled by Rudy Giuliani and have been reviewed by former President Trump’s own Justice Department.”

He added that the FD-1023 contains “unsubstantiated, second-hand hearsay allegations” and that the confidential source behind the information “explicitly noted that it is not unusual for Ukrainian business executives to brag and show off and that he could not offer any opinion supporting the veracity of the allegations he was relaying.”

Comer, in response, did not comment on the substance of the questionnaire Zlochevsky had filled out and instead called on Raskin to join him in calling for the FBI to make the FD-1023 form public. 

This record is not part of the material Rudy Giuliani provided the FBI,” he said. “This unclassified record stands on its own and memorializes a confidential human source’s conversations with a Burisma executive dating back to 2015. The Burisma executive claims then-Vice President Biden solicited and received a $5 million bribe in exchange for certain actions.

"The executive also claims he didn’t pay ‘the big guy’ directly but used so many bank accounts that it would take 10 years to unravel. ... Ranking Member Raskin is rapidly losing credibility as he continues to aid and abet the Biden family coverup.”