A top Senate Republican revealed Monday that an FBI informant said the Ukrainian oligarch involved in an alleged “criminal bribery scheme” with Joe and Hunter Biden also claimed to have 17 recordings of his conversations with the president and his son.
Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) revealed on the Senate floor that a largely unredacted version of the bureau’s FD-1023 confidential human source form said that “the foreign national who allegedly bribed Joe and Hunter Biden allegedly has audio recordings of his conversations with them — 17 such recordings.”
The Republican senator said, “These recordings were allegedly kept as a sort of insurance policy for the foreign national in case he got into a tight spot.”
Mykola Zlochevsky, the Ukrainian owner of Burisma, was the “foreign national” involved in the alleged “criminal bribery scheme” detailed in the FBI form, and Zlochevsky referred to Joe Biden as the “big guy” during a conversation several years before the June 2020 date of the bureau document, according to sources familiar with the FBI record who described its contents to the Washington Examiner.
Grassley added Monday that, according to the FD-1023, “the foreign national possesses 15 audio recordings of phone calls between him and Hunter Biden” and “two audio recordings of phone calls between him and the-Vice President Joe Biden.”
The senator also said the FBI record “also indicates that then-Vice President Joe Biden may have been involved in Burisma employing Hunter Biden.”
The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Delaware is handling the ongoing federal criminal investigation into Hunter Biden. It is allegedly up to U.S. Attorney David Weiss, a Trump-appointed holdover, to decide whether to indict the president’s son. In February 2021, Joe Biden asked all Senate-confirmed U.S. attorneys appointed by Trump for their resignations, with Weiss a rare exception.
“What is U.S. Attorney Weiss doing with respect to these alleged Joe and Hunter Biden recordings that are apparently relevant to the high-stakes bribery scheme?” Grassley asked Monday.
Sources previously told the Washington Examiner that the Burisma owner discussed an alleged bribe of $5 million to Joe Biden and of $5 million to Hunter Biden, according to the paid FBI informant who said he heard this from Zlochevsky. The sources said Zlochevsky said he believed it would be difficult to unravel the alleged bribery scheme for at least 10 years because of the number of bank accounts involved.
Zlochevsky’s alleged reference to Joe Biden as the “big guy” appears independent of the apparent reference to the now-president as the “big guy” by a Hunter Biden business associate during negotiations with Chinese intelligence-linked businessmen. The China-related reference occurred in a May 2017 email not made public until October 2020.
The existence of the Ukraine-related FD-1023 appears to have been revealed to Grassley by whistleblowers in 2022, and Grassley told the Justice Department and FBI back in October to hand over “all records,” including “FD-1023” documents that “reference Mykola Zlochevsky, Hunter Biden, James Biden, and Joe Biden.”
House Republicans said the alleged bribery scheme was related to Joe Biden’s efforts as vice president to pressure the Ukrainian government to fire Ukrainian prosecutor Viktor Shokin. Republicans said the FBI form indicated the alleged bribes were aimed at shaking off a corruption investigation.
Amid the threat of being held in contempt of Congress by Rep. James Comer (R-KY) for failing to comply with a subpoena, FBI Director Christopher Wray allowed members of Comer’s House Oversight Committee to review the FD-1023 last Thursday, but that version had significant redactions.
“With respect to the 1023 shown to the House Oversight Committee, from what I’ve been told by folks who have reviewed it, it’s filled with redactions. The document that Comer and I read had maybe two or three half-inch redactions,” Grassley said Monday, adding, “So Director Wray placed redactions on a document that is already unclassified. More than that, the FBI made the Congress review a redacted unclassified document in a classified facility. That goes to show you the disrespect that the FBI has for Congress.”
Burisma became a hot-button issue when President Donald Trump referenced it in a July 2019 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. The call spurred a whistleblower complaint, which sparked Democratic-led impeachment proceedings in the House, where Democrats denied Shokin had truly been investigating Burisma and Republicans argued he had been.
Trump and his Republican allies claim Joe Biden improperly used his position as vice president to pressure Ukraine to fire Shokin to protect his son from an investigation into Burisma. Democrats deny this and argue the focus on Burisma was part of an effort to dirty up Joe Biden.
Joe Biden said the bribery allegations were “a bunch of malarkey” when asked about them Thursday after he first quipped, “Where’s the money? I’m joking.”
Ukrainian officials said in June 2020 that they were offered $5 million in bribes to shut down criminal investigations into Burisma and allow Zlochevsky, who has been living abroad, to return to Ukraine. They said this was unconnected to Joe and Hunter Biden.
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