Senator Chuck Grassley Puts FBI Agents In Danger For A Headline

Sen. Chuck Grassley released an FBI FD-1023 form related to the Hunter Biden investigation. These forms are not intended to be public documents and it is highly unusual to release them publicly. These are the forms that the FBI uses to “record raw, unverified reporting from confidential human sources.” They do not represent the results of investigations, and “recording this information does not validate it or establish its credibility.”

These forms are not classified, but they are kept in confidence for a number of reasons that are mostly connected with protecting sources. The FBI has made it clear to Grassley repeatedly that releasing the form would have a negative impact not just on this case, but on every case that depends on confidential human sources.

Grassley released it anyway because he has placed what he sees as a momentary opportunity to hurt President Joe Biden over the needs of the FBI and the good of the nation. More than that, Grassley is doing this to forward a story that he knows is a lie.

The form, which is dated June 2020, claims to be sourced from a businessman who was introduced to leadership at Burisma energy in Ukraine in “late 2015 or early 2016” to help the company find a U.S. company to purchase. During a meeting with Burisma leadership, the source claims that he was told Hunter Biden was put on the company board to “protect us, through his dad, from all kinds of problems.” Asked why it isn’t Hunter doing the job of locating a U.S. form to purchase, he’s told that “Hunter is not that smart.” Finally the source is told by Burisma executive Mykola Zlochevsky that the company has to pay $5 million to Joe Biden and another $5 million to Hunter Biden because they are being investigated by Ukrainian prosecutor Viktor Shokin, and Burisma needed Biden to “deal with Shokin.”

The story then jumps to a phone call in 2016. Or maybe it was 2017. As with the original meeting, the source can’t recall the year, though he recalls the dialogue word for word. This time Zlochevsky complains that Burisma was forced to pay Biden, using a term that the source describes as “Russian-criminal-slang,” and now that Trump has been elected their investment is worthless. However, Shokin has been fired, so there was no investigation and no one would ever know about the money they paid the Bidens.

Jump forward to 2019 when CHS again meets with Burisma executives and Zlochevsky brags to the source about how clever they were in hiding the payments to Hunter Biden and Joe Biden, and how no one will ever find those payments. According to the source, this is the kind of thing Ukrainian businessmen like to brag about in casual conversation.

Finally, it comes down to this bit where one of the Burisma executives tells the source:

“… he has many text messages and ‘recordings’ that show he was coerced to make such payments … he had a total of “17 recordings” involving the Bidens; two of the recordings included Joe Biden, and the remaining 15 recordings only Included Hunter Biden. … These recordings evidence Zlochevskiy was somehow coerced into paying the Bidens to ensure Ukraine Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin was fired.”

If any of this sounds slightly familiar, it’s because it’s the exact story that Rudy Giuliani told to The New York Times in May 2019. In that story, Hunter Biden was placed on the board of Burisma in 2014 not because he was clearly a well-placed American with years of experience in lobbying, investment banking, and corporate governance who might be essential to an energy company looking to expand internationally, but because his father could get a Ukrainian prosecutor fired.

And Shokin was fired in 2016. The Ukrainian parliament voted him out after Joe Biden made it clear that the United States was very concerned about Shokin and might withhold or delay assistance to Ukraine unless he was removed. That’s a real thing. Biden even bragged about it later, telling a group of foreign policy advisers that he confronted the Ukrainian president and demanded Shokin’s firing.

Except the reason that Shokin was fired was because he was not investigating cases of corruption and was instead either turning a blind eye or an outstretched hand when dealing with Ukrainian oligarchs who were making off with billions. Both the U.S. and the U.K. governments had been pressuring Ukraine about Shokin for over a year before Joe Biden’s visit. In fact, the thing that upset the U.K. government most was that Shokin was refusing to investigate one firm in particular: Burisma.

As the head of a Ukrainian anti-corruption organization told Radio Free Europe, Shokin had dumped the investigation of Burisma when he took office.

“Ironically, Joe Biden asked Shokin to leave because the prosecutor failed [to pursue] the Burisma investigation, not because Shokin was tough and active with this case,” Kaleniuk said.

When The New York Times ran Giuliani’s version of the story in 2019, it took Bloomberg News just one week to rip it apart.

… at the time Biden made his ultimatum, the probe into the company—Burisma Holdings, owned by Mykola Zlochevsky—had been long dormant, according to the former official, Vitaliy Kasko.

“There was no pressure from anyone from the U.S. to close cases against Zlochevsky,” Kasko said in an interview last week. “It was shelved by Ukrainian prosecutors in 2014 and through 2015.”

From the beginning of this whole affair, and in fact from the moment Giuliani set foot in Ukraine, it’s been obvious that in getting Shokin fired Joe Biden wasn’t protecting Burisma, he was taking action that put the company under renewed scrutiny. And in fact prosecutors did reopen their investigation of Burisma, reviewing multiple instances in which Zlochevsky was suspected of crimes.

All of this—all of it—was thoroughly covered just two years ago, including just how Giuliani generated his claims against Joe Biden and Hunter Biden in the first place.

Giuliani made a personal visit to an outgoing prosecutor, tried to convince him to play ball, and even called Trump directly while in the prosecutor’s office so that Trump could explain how excited he was about the “investigation” into Biden. The prosecutor even went so far as to add some new false claims, asserting that Joe Biden personally took a payment to act as an agent of a Ukrainian company.

That moment when Giuliani was making calls directly to the White House from the office of an outgoing official is the genesis of the idea that Joe Biden took some kind of payment from Burisma. Until that moment, it had come up nowhere. From no one.

Over the following months, Giuliani assembled a group of known criminals and former members of the pro-Russian government who had been ousted with the election of Volodymyr Zelenskyy. He found several willing to play along with his growing story, but they had a price: They wanted Trump to get rid of U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, who was too effective in fighting corruption. Trump gave them exactly what they wanted to get his false evidence against Biden, but even in 2019 the holes in the story were so big that the whole scheme was obviously a … scheme.

Now it’s back again and nothing has changed. The document that the FBI held was clearly authored by someone who was part of Giuliani’s plot, and it was clearly Giuliani himself who pointed out this document to Grassley and others. The document contains exactly the same false, easily disproved claims as the story the Times printed up for Giuliani and was obviously written with the sole purpose of providing some faux documentary evidence for the story Giuliani and Trump were pushing at the time. It’s all part of what Trump was trying to get Zelenskyy to say when he made his impeachment-worthy phone call to the Ukrainian leader.

The content of the FD-1023 form is a lie. What’s more, Grassley knows it is a lie. He knows this has all been investigated and found to be baseless accusations. And he knows that releasing this document causes real, genuine harm.

Protecting this type of information from wider disclosure is crucial to our ability to recruit sources and ensure the safety of the source or others mentioned in the reporting. CHSs are critical to cases across all FBI programs—whether it’s violent crime, drug cartels, or terrorism. It would be difficult to effectively recruit these sources if we can’t assure them of their confidentiality. And without these sources, we would not be able to build the cases that are so important to keeping Americans safe.

Grassley was sent a letter reminding him of exactly this issue and asking him expressly to remind everyone involved to keep in mind the importance of keeping these documents secure. Instead, Grassley did the opposite: He published the FD-1023 in blatant defiance of the FBI’s request.

Why did he do it? He did it for the same reason that Republicans had been seeking release of the document all along, and that was because they knew it would generate headlines like this:

Bidens allegedly ‘coerced’ Burisma CEO to pay them millions to help get Ukraine prosecutor fired: FBI form

Grassley purposely released a document that he knew was a lie for the purpose of attacking Joe Biden even though he knew it would put Americans in danger and damage the FBI’s ability to investigate actual crimes of all sorts.

To gain a moment of political attention, Grassley is creating an immeasurable risk. How can witnesses come to the FBI to make a confidential statement knowing that their identities and claims can be revealed for political expediency by someone who has no real interest in the truth?

There is a genuine broad streak of corruption in this case, and it runs right through Iowa.

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