WASHINGTON, DC – Judicial Watch announced today it filed two Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuits against the United States Department of State relating to Burisma Holdings. The first lawsuit seeks records of communications from the US Embassy in Kyiv related to Burisma.
The second lawsuit seeks records related to a January 19, 2016 meeting at the White House that included Ukrainian prosecutors, embassy officials and CIA employee Eric Ciaramella, who reportedly worked on Ukraine issues while on detail to both the Obama and Trump White Houses (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of State (No. 1:20-cv-000229)) and (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of State (No. 1:20-cv-000239)).
Ciaramella is widely reported as the person who filed the whistleblower complaint that triggered the impeachment proceedings. His name reportedly was “raised privately in impeachment depositions, according to officials with direct knowledge of the proceedings, as well as in at least one open hearing held by a House committee not involved in the impeachment inquiry.”
The lawsuits were filed after the State Department failed to respond to separate FOIA requests for:
• All cables/teletypes or e-mails sent or addressed to any official, employee, or representative of the Department of State stationed at the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv containing the term “Burisma.”
• All records regarding the January 19, 2016, meeting at the White House that included State Department Ukrainian Resident Legal Advisor Jeff Cole and U.S. Embassy Kyiv employee Svitlana Pardus.
• All records of communication between State Department Resident Legal Advisor Jeff Cole and National Security Council staffer Eric Ciaramella.
• All records of communication between U.S. Embassy Kyiv employee Svitlana Pardus and National Security Council staffer Eric Ciaramella.
• All emails sent by or addressed to State Department Resident Legal Advisor Jeff Cole and/or U.S. Embassy Kyiv employee Svitlana Pardus between January 10, 2016 and January 30, 2016.
In April 2014, Hunter Biden joined the board of the Ukrainian gas company, Burisma Holdings. He served on the board until early 2019. Burisma, which was under investigation by the Ukrainian government stated at the time of his hiring that Biden would, be “in charge of the Holdings’ legal unit and will provide support for the Company among international organizations.” Biden had no previous energy experience.
In November 2019, through analysis of Obama-era White House visitor logs, Judicial Watch broke the story of Ciaramella’s White House meetings. Ciaramella was detailed to the Obama White House in 2015 and returned to the CIA during the Trump administration in 2017. The list of persons Ciaramella met with includes, but is not limited to, Daria Kaleniuk, co-founder and executive director of the Soros-funded Anticorruption Action Center (AntAC) in Ukraine; Gina Lentine, formerly the Eurasia program coordinator at Soros funded Open Society Foundations; and former Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland, who had extensive involvement with Clinton-funded dossier. The logs also reveal that Alexandra Chalupa, a contractor hired by the DNC during the 2016 election who coordinated with Ukrainians to investigate President Trump and his former campaign manager Paul Manafort, visited the White House 27 times.
On January 22, 2020, Fox News’ Laura Ingraham reported that New York Times journalist Ken Vogel was investigating the January 19, 2015 meeting at the White House. Vogel had contacted the State Department via email for comment, specifically mentioning concerns about Hunter Biden’s position with Burisma:
“We are going to report that [State Department official] Elizabeth Zentos attended a meeting at the White House on 1/19/2016 with Ukrainian prosecutors and embassy officials as well as … [redacted] from the NSC … The subjects discussed included efforts within the United State government to support prosecutions, in Ukraine and the United Kingdom, of Burisma Holdings … and concerns that Hunter Biden’s position with the company could complicate such efforts.”
“These lawsuits could confirm that President Trump had every right to be concerned about Ukraine and Biden corruption – and that the impeachment against him was a shameful attempt to cover up these scandals,” stated Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton.
Judicial Watch last month sued for Ciaramella’s CIA emails and for information on his links to the FBI/DOJ Russiagate investigation. Judicial Watch also sued for records about the firing of Ukraine’s top prosecutor after then-Vice President Joe Biden threatened to withhold aid.