US President Joe Biden is expected to say whether he would challenge a decision by National Archives to release documents concerning his son’s role in a controversial gas company in Cyprus and allegations that business dealings may have improperly influenced American policy.
A retweet over the weekend from Stephen Miller, a former advisor and speechwriter for former US President Donald Trump, pointed to a Freedom of Information Act request seeking the release of documents during the Obama years that contained the word "Burisma,” a Ukrainian gas company that was registered in Limassol, Cyprus.
“America First Legal launched the request for these National Archive records, and is now suing in federal court to obtain them, in order to fight public corruption of the highest order,” Miller tweeted.
Documents being requested include communications during a crucial period in 2014, when Ukraine was undergoing the Maidan Revolution.
Around the same time, in mid-May 2014, Cyprus-based gas company Burisma announced that Hunter Biden would be joining its board of directors, while a week later then-vice president Joe Biden landed on the divided island for an official visit.
In August 2019, an anonymous official flagged Trump's phone call to Zelensky, prompting Giuliani to drop a bombshell linking the Bidens to allegations of Ukrainian money laundering through Cyprus
In early 2018, Biden bragged to an audience that during an official visit to Ukraine he got general prosecutor Viktor Shokin fired after giving an ultimatum to then-Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko to fire him or lose $1 billion in US loan guarantees.
Shokin, who became general prosecutor in February 2015, was reportedly investigating potential Burisma corruption. But according to Ukraine’s anti-corruption bureau, a probe into the Limassol-headquartered gas company had already focused on company dealings before Hunter Biden joined the board.
After Ukraine’s then-president Viktor Yanukovych fled Kiev in February 2014, UK authorities in April of that year opened a criminal investigation into possible money laundering on suspicion of corruption in the former Soviet state. The Serious Fraud Office froze $23 million belonging to Mykola Zlochevsky, who founded Burisma in 2002, but the money was returned back to its owner a year later.
The request is specifically seeking records of all communications between then-vice president Biden's office and his son Hunter and his brother James, as well as official government travel records of Biden family visits to the White House during the Obama administration.
Biden reportedly has yet to indicate whether the White House would invoke executive privilege to block the release of the documents.
Last month the National Archives and Records Administration gave the White House 60 days to decide before the agency would release 69 images and 282 emails in response to the request for documents, including messages containing the word "Burisma."
Legal pundits say the Biden administration may stop the release of these records by invoking executive privilege.
But Miller says his team is determined and ready to fight.
"We will fight it. We will expose it. We will leave no dark corner sheltered from the disinfecting light of justice. And if President Biden tries to block our request, in brazen defiance of the law, he will have only proven just how much he has to hide — and steeled our determination to find it and share it for all in the public to see. Our lawyers stand at the ready," he said.
Cyprus in the mix
The revelations about Hunter Biden came to light after his laptop was left unclaimed at a computer repair shop, with FBI getting hold of the device but not before the store owner made a copy of the hard drive and gave it to Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani.
Two years ago Trump was impeached on grounds he had sought to pressure Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky into probing whether Biden tried to block an investigation into his son’s relationship with Burisma.
In August 2019, an anonymous intelligence official said Trump's phone conversation with Zelensky a month earlier had raised “urgent concern” over a president allegedly using his office to "solicit interference from a foreign country" in the 2020 election.
But a month later, Giuliani responded by dropping a bombshell on Twitter linking the Bidens to allegations of Ukrainian money laundering through Cyprus.
Trump and Giuliani have been accusing Biden of bribing government officials in Ukraine to slow-walk investigations into Burisma Holdings.
Laptop story and the Twitter Files
During his time as presidential candidate, Biden had said the allegations were not credible and suggested he was being targeted because Trump was under investigation to release a transcript of a phone conversation he had with the Ukrainian president.
Earlier this month, reporters with access to “Twitter Files” reported that in the runup to the US presidential election in 2020 the micro-blogging website decided to block any links to a New York Post story about the contents of Hunter Biden’s laptop.
Government officials had described the story as “Russian misinformation” from potential “hacked material” while former Twitter executive Yoel Roth, who left Twitter following Musk’s takeover, said it was a “mistake” to censor the story.
Users were not able to post the story or even link to the webpage in private messages, while the New York Post Twitter account was suspended for more than two weeks for refusing to delete the tweeted story.
On 11 March 2022 Burismsa Holdings’ status changed from active to “Members Voluntary Winding Up” according to data publicly available online.