Yovanovitch Admits She Was Aware of Hunter Biden & Burisma, But Did Nothing
Former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine grille by Republican counsel
Former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch admitted she had been briefed about Hunter Biden being on Burisma’s board but did nothing about it.
Yovanovitch, who was being questioned by Republican counsel, testified in response to Stephen Castor's questions before the House Intelligence Committee’s second public hearing in the impeachment inquiry.
Hunter Biden, the then-Vice President Joe Biden’s son, was highly compensated for being on the board position of the energy company in 2014 while his father oversaw U.S.-Ukraine relations.
Diplomat George Kent testified Wednesday that Biden's position on the board presented an apparent conflict of interest.
Yovanovitch testified she had been informed about the situation and had even been coached on how to respond, but failed to take action when she arrived at her post:
Transcript below of testimony:
Castor: Right around the time the bribe was paid [by an oligarch], Burisma undertook an effort to spruce up their board, and they added, I believe, the president of Poland and some other luminaries. Are you familiar with that?
Yovanovitch: Yeah — I don’t exactly know what the timing of all this was, but yes, I mean, to the elements.
Castor: And, you know, one of the folks they added to the board was the vice president’s son, Hunter Biden. Which, you know, raises questions. Is he a genius on the corporate governance front?
Is he a genius with the oligarchal systems and cleaning that up, or was he just added to the board because he’s the vice president’s son? Was that ever, you know, a concern or at least the perception of that concern addressed?
Yovanovitch: As I said, I arrived in August of 2016, several months before the elections, and several months before President Trump took office. And it was not a focus of what I was doing in that six-month period.
Castor: OK. Was the issue ever raised at all?
Yovanovitch: You know, not —
Castor: He was still on the board, I think, at the time.
Yovanovitch: Year, my understanding from newspaper accounts is that he just recently left, in 2019. I never met him, never talked to him. And I’m sorry — what was your question?
Castor: He was still on the board when you arrived at post, and I was just wondering if at least the perception problem was brought to your attention as the ambassador.
Yovanovitch: We — I was aware of it because, as I told you before, in the deposition, there had been a — in terms of the preparation for my Senate confirmation hearings for Ukraine, there was a question about that and a select answer.
So I was aware of it, yes.
It was later noted by Rep. Elaine Stefanik (R-NY) that while Democrats on the committee had attempted to suppress questions about Burisma, the Obama administration had prepared her to answer them for her confirmation hearing.
Stefanik: The first time you personally became aware of Burisma was actually when you were being prepared by the Obama State Department for your Senate confirmation hearings.
And this was in the form of practice questions and answers. This was your deposition. And you testified that in this particular practice Q & A with the Obama State Department, it wasn’t just generally about Burisma and corruption, it was specifically about Hunter Biden and Burisma, is that correct?
Yovanovitch: Yes, it is.
Stefanik: And the exact quote from your testimony, Ambassador, is, quote, the way the question was phrased in this model Q & A was, what can you tell us about Hunter Biden’s, you know, being named to the board of Burisma?
So for the millions of Americans watching, President Obama’s own State Department was so concerned about potential conflicts of interest from Hunter Biden’s role at Burisma that they raised it themselves while prepping this wonderful ambassador nominee before her confirmation.
And yet our Democratic colleagues and the chairman of this committee cry fowl when we dare ask that same question the Obama administration was so concerned about. But we will continue asking it.
Stefanik was prevented by Chairman Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) from speaking earlier in the hearing.