April 17, 2024 – Impeachment ‘whistleblower’ Eric Ciaramella was in the loop of the same Biden-Ukraine affairs that Trump wanted probed

In Email/Dossier/Govt Corruption Investigations, Featured Timeline Entries by Katie Weddington

Eric Ciaramella: Privately expressed shock — “Yikes” — at linking U.S. aid to firing a prosecutor probing the firm paying Biden’s son.  (Credit: Harvard University/Davis Center)

The ‘whistleblower’ who sparked Donald Trump’s first impeachment was deeply involved in the political maneuverings behind Biden-family business schemes in Ukraine that Trump wanted probed, newly obtained emails from former Vice President Joe Biden’s office reveal.

In 2019, then-National Intelligence Council analyst Eric Ciaramella touched off a political firestorm when he anonymously accused Trump of linking military aid for Ukraine to a demand for an investigation into alleged Biden corruption in that country.

But four years earlier, while working as a national security analyst attached to then-Vice President Joe Biden’s office, Ciaramella was a close adviser when Biden threatened to cut off U.S. aid to Ukraine unless it fired its top prosecutor, Viktor Shokin, who was investigating Ukraine-based Burisma Holdings. At the time, the corruption-riddled energy giant was paying Biden’s son Hunter millions of dollars.

(…) RealClearInvestigations has reviewed more than 2,000 pages of newly disclosed archived emails from the former vice president’s office related to Ukraine, of which more than 160 contained references to Ciaramella. They reveal that his role advising Biden’s office potentially intersects with the current impeachment inquiry in several areas. Chiefly, Ciaramella focused on aid to Ukraine and anti-corruption reforms in the country. In that capacity, he:

Victor Shokin: Fired prosecutor. (Credit: AP)

Hosted, cleared into the White House, and met face-to-face there with senior Ukrainian prosecutors.
Gave a “readout” of the meeting to his superiors, who in turn pushed for Shokin’s firing.

Traveled with Biden to Kyiv during the 2015 trip during which Biden demanded Shokin’s firing.

Wrote media “talking points” for Ukrainian officials.

Huddled with the top Biden officials involved in discussions concerning the $1 billion aid package and Shokin, including: Amos Hochstein; Victoria Nuland; Geoffrey Pyatt; Bridget Brink; and Michael Carpenter.

Corresponded with Biden officials coordinating responses to negative media reports about Hunter’s cushy and controversial Burisma job.

“Point of contact”: Eric Ciaramella taking notes next to Biden’s security adviser Michael Carpenter (right) in a June 2015 meeting with Ukrainian officials at the White House. (Credit: Ukraine.com)

Former Obama-Biden administration officials have confirmed in recent closed-door congressional testimony that Ciaramella was a key part of Biden’s process for making policy in Ukraine. In 2016, for instance, a White House photo shows him taking notes at a White House meeting Biden held with then-Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk to discuss Ukraine’s anti-corruption reforms and other issues.

Ciaramella also worked directly with top Obama and Biden administration diplomats on Ukraine, including senior State Department official Victoria Nuland. “Eric was regularly the clearing authority to get me into the White House for interagency meetings on Ukraine,” Nuland revealed in a 2020 Senate deposition. Asked if she ever discussed Ukraine policy and Shokin with Ciaramella, Nuland testified: “Of course, I did. He was part of the interagency process. He was also on my negotiating team for the six, seven rounds of negotiations I did with the Russians on [the disputed Ukraine region] Donbas.”

Ciaramella was directly involved in talks concerning the massive U.S. aid package to Ukraine that Biden conditioned on the removal of Shokin, who at the time had seized the assets of the corrupt Burisma oligarch employing Hunter Biden. He also arranged and participated in White House talks with Ukrainian prosecutors visiting from Shokin’s office.

White House visitor logs confirm Ciaramella escorted Shokin’s deputy prosecutor, David Sakvarelidze, into the White House for a January 2016 meeting. A White House agenda for the meeting lists Ciaramella as “point of contact” for the Ukrainian delegation. He also checked in Andriy Telizhenko, the Ukrainian Embassy official who says they discussed Burisma and Hunter Biden during the meeting and struggled to understand why his U.S. counterparts were suddenly hostile to Shokin after praising him in earlier talks.

Emails from the time show Ciaramella appeared surprised to hear about the linkage between the $1 billion loan to Ukraine and the dismissal of Shokin. Though Biden maintains he insisted Kyiv oust Shokin because he was too soft on weeding out fraud in entities that included Burisma, Ciaramella suggested he didn’t share the view that Shokin was corrupt. “We were super impressed with the group,” Ciaramella added, “and we had a two-hour discussion of their priorities and the obstacles they face.”

On Jan. 21, U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt emailed Ciaramella and other White House aides an article from the Ukrainian press – “U.S. loan guarantee conditional on Shokin’s dismissal.”

“Yikes. I don’t recall this coming up in our meeting with them,” Ciaramella replied, referring to the White House meeting he hosted with top Ukrainian prosecutors.

Geoffrey Pyatt, U.S. envoy to Ukraine: “I think you have to ask Eric what he meant by ‘Yikes.’” (Credit: AP)

But in a closed-door 2020 deposition before the Senate, Pyatt sounded skeptical that Ciaramella was in the dark about the decision. “I think you have to ask Eric what he meant by ‘Yikes,’” Pyatt told Senate investigators. He said that he believed conditioning the loan guarantee on Shokin’s removal “obviously came up in those meetings” hosted by Ciaramella, suggesting that Biden’s aide knew of the quid pro quo before Pyatt circulated the article about it from the Ukrainian press.

The day before he hosted the Ukraine prosecutors, Ciaramella received an agenda from a State Department official that asked him to “note the importance of appointing a new PG [Prosecutor General], reiterating that Shokin is an obstacle to reform,” according to emails. The agenda also called on Ciaramella to “ask the del [Ukrainian delegation] what high-level cases are on the docket for prosecution,” which raises suspicions in some quarters that Biden’s advisers were fishing for information about Shokin’s plans for prosecuting Burisma oligarchs, something Hunter Biden had been asked to find out.

In a Jan. 21 email, Pyatt told Ciaramella to “buckle in” because, as he later explained to Senate investigators, the deal was a “difficult issue” and “there was going to be political controversy around this [news].”

The former ambassador demurred when asked if conditioning the $1 billion on Shokin’s firing was Biden’s idea or came from his office. “It was the – our interagency policy,” he testified, adding, “I don’t remember when the vice president would have weighed in on this.”

However, Pyatt allowed that it was a sudden change in policy. “At the beginning,” he said, “it was not our expectation that Shokin’s removal would be necessary.” Indeed, an Oct. 1, 2015, memo summarizing the recommendation of the Interagency Policy Committee on Ukraine stated, “Ukraine has made sufficient progress on its [anti-corruption] reform agenda to justify a third [loan] guarantee.” Ciaramella was a member of the IPC task force, which monitored Shokin’s office. The next month, moreover, the task force drafted a loan guarantee agreement that did not call for Shokin’s removal. Then, in December, Joe Biden flew to Kyiv to demand his ouster.

If what Ciaramella expressed in his email (which he knew would be part of archived White House records) was a genuine reaction, it appears that Vice President Biden went against the recommendation of one of his top NSC advisers on Ukraine. If Ciaramella were genuinely alarmed, he might have blown the whistle on his boss like he did on Trump, but he stayed mum. If, on the other hand, Ciaramella were a party to the quid-pro-quo discussions, as Pyatt suggests, then he had “a direct conflict,” noted Derek Harvey, the former congressional investigator involved in the first impeachment. Either way, Ciaramella clearly found himself in the middle of a major controversy.

Just weeks prior, White House photos indicate that Ciaramella traveled with Biden on the same December 2015 Air Force Two flight the vice president took to Kyiv to threaten Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko to ax Shokin. Republicans have accused Biden of pushing Shokin’s ouster to block scrutiny of his son’s actions.

“Biden called an audible and changed U.S. policy toward Ukraine to benefit his son on the plane ride to Ukraine,” House Oversight Committee Chair James Comer said, and “later bragged about withholding a U.S. loan guarantee if Ukraine did not fire the prosecutor [Shokin].”

Biden and his supporters have repeatedly claimed Shokin had to go because he wasn’t cracking down on corruption and that everyone else in the administration, as well as Europe, agreed Shokin should be fired. This remains the prevailing narrative in major U.S. media. But around that time, Shokin had conducted a raid of Burisma oligarch Mykola Zlochevsky’s home, seizing his house, cars, and other assets. (Read more: RealClearInvestigations, 4/17/2024) (Archive)