NARA executive Susan Donius sent a letter to the White House late last month warning that the records agency is preparing to release emails in response to an open records request unless the White House intervenes. The emails are from 2014 when President Joe Biden served as vice president to former President Barack Obama.
Both men’s respective legal teams have been notified and given 60 days to assert privilege over any of the information slated to be released in accordance with the Presidential Records Act, according to Insider, which first reported the existence of the NARA letter.
The letter references a slate of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests. One of those requests focused on records related to the president’s son Hunter and brother James and their foreign business dealings. NARA is preparing to release 185 emails in whole and 75 others with redactions in response to the request.
“The Biden Vice Presidential records to be opened are email messages from May 2014 to December 2014 that include the company name ‘Burisma,’” a summary of the FOIA request says.
“Several of the email messages are press inquiries regarding the announcement of Hunter Biden joining the board of directors of Ukrainian energy company Burisma Holdings Limited in May 2014 and the Office of Vice President’s responses to those inquiries. There are also email messages containing news articles compiled by White House staff which include articles referencing Hunter Biden and his role with Burisma,” it continued.
Hunter Biden joined the board of Burisma in 2014 despite lacking any experience in the energy sector. He made as much as $83,333 a month for the role. His role at the company set off speculation that Burisma brought on the Biden scion to gain influence with the Obama administration. At the time, then-Vice President Biden was heading the Obama administration’s Ukraine policy.
Hunter Biden said in a 2019 interview that being a member of the Biden family has likely allowed him to take advantage of many opportunities he would not have had otherwise. He later claimed in his 2021 memoir “Beautiful Things” that he did nothing wrong in taking the job with Burisma, but the trouble it has caused for his family, especially his father, was not worth the pay.
“Did I make a mistake by taking a seat on the board of a Ukrainian gas company? No. Did I display a lack of judgment? No. Would I do it again? No. I did nothing unethical,” he wrote.
President Biden has repeatedly claimed that he never spoke with his son about Hunter’s foreign business dealings. That claim was seemingly contradicted in June by the release of a 2018 voicemail found on Hunter’s abandoned laptop.
“Hey pal, it’s dad. It’s 8:15 on Wednesday night. If you get a chance just give me a call,” President Biden, then out of office, told Hunter in the recorded message. “Nothing urgent. I just wanted to talk to you. I thought the article released online, it’s going to be printed tomorrow in the Times, was good. I think you’re clear. And anyway if you get a chance give me a call, I love you.”
The voicemail references an article from The New York Times on dealings Hunter had with a Chinese businessman, Ye Jianming, the chairman of the Chinese energy giant CEFC.