Shocking revelations in Washington suggest the owner of Burisma, a Ukrainian energy company registered in Cyprus, said he had secretly recorded phone conservations with Joe Biden as “insurance policy” while accusations continue to build up against the FBI for redacting crucial information from a document alleging bribery and corruption.
Prominent Republican senator Chuck Grassley on Monday dropped a bombshell claim on the Senate floor, accusing the FBI of needlessly redacting information about audio recordings made by Burisma Holdings owner Mykola Zlochevsky in conversations the Ukrainian national allegedly had with Joe Biden and son Hunter.
Zlochevsky, who reportedly obtained Cypriot citizenship through the island’s disgraced golden passport scheme, was viewed by some speculative media reports as being the “foreign national” identified by an FBI informant who said the Burisma owner had paid Hunter and then-Vice President Joe Biden $5 million each to fire Ukraine’s chief prosecutor Viktor Shokin.
'These recordings were allegedly kept as a sort of insurance policy for the foreign national in case he got into a tight spot'
Back in early 2015, then newly-appointed Shokin began probing into Burisma dealings but was called out by US ambassador to Kiev Geoffrey Pyatt, who accused the prosecutor of being an obstacle to judicial reform.
Shokin was fired later that year with Joe Biden taking credit for the ouster, telling an audience at a forum in 2018 that the prosecutor was corrupted, stalling investigations, and that European governments also wanted the prosecutor gone.
But the alternative narrative about Biden gunning for Shokin, which was dismissed years earlier, reemerged after a group of Republicans headed a probe into allegations against the Bidens, including a focus on the hiring of son Hunter on the board of Burisma in spring 2014.
Former White House stenographer Mike McCormick says a vice-presidential trip by Joe Biden to Cyprus in May 2014 was “suspicious” and blatantly speculated that a kickback payment from Burisma came out of the island.
Grassley, who cannot be prosecuted for revealing sensitive information, criticized the FBI over redactions in a Form 1023, in which a reliable informant had alleged a criminal bribery scheme between then-Vice President Joe Biden and a foreign national that involved influence over US policy decisions.
But Grassley revealed that redacted information was about a “reference that the foreign national who allegedly bribed Joe and Hunter Biden allegedly has audio recordings of his conversations with them.”
It was not clear whether the FBI has possession of any of the purported tapes but Grassley said there was a total of 17 recordings.
Additional reports speculated that the person who secretly recorded phone conversations was none other than Zlochevsky.
No confirmation has been provided about Zlochevsky’s alleged role in the recordings but according to the FBI source, who initially filled out the Form 1023, the Ukrainian businessman claimed the secret tapes were kept as “insurance.”
“These recordings were allegedly kept as a sort of insurance policy for the foreign national in case he got into a tight spot. The 1023 also indicates that then-Vice President Joe Biden may have been involved in Burisma employing Hunter Biden,” Grassley said.
"What, if anything, has the Justice Department and FBI done to investigate?"
The senator has asked to know “what, if anything, has the Justice Department and FBI done to investigate? The Justice Department and FBI must show their work.”
Wray had initially denied the existence of the form but later agreed to show a redacted version in a closed meeting with lawmakers after Oversight Committee Chair James Comer said he had actually seen the document.
But Comer has publicly accused the FBI of failing to investigate the claims in the first place.
Grassley also lashed out at the FBI, saying the bureau “made Congress review a redacted unclassified document in a classified facility. That goes to show you the disrespect the FBI has for Congress.”
“That’s why it’s important that the document be made public without unnecessary redactions for the American people to see,” Grassley added.