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A Ukrainian soldier in a shelter on territory controlled by pro-Russian militants near the border where Russian troops have gathered. (AP) A Ukrainian soldier in a shelter on territory controlled by pro-Russian militants near the border where Russian troops have gathered. (AP)

A Ukrainian soldier in a shelter on territory controlled by pro-Russian militants near the border where Russian troops have gathered. (AP)

Jon Greenberg
By Jon Greenberg January 27, 2022

If Your Time is short

  • Hunter Biden was a paid board member of the Ukrainian energy firm Burisma.

  • His pay remains unclear, although Senate Republicans said it was as much as $50,000 a month, less than a third of what Boebert said.

Negotiators from the United States and Europe have been meeting with their Russian counterparts to defuse the threat of Russian aggression against Ukraine. Russia has positioned an estimated 100,000 troops along Urkaine’s border.

Some Republicans favor a forceful U.S. response. Others, such as Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., say America has no reason to get involved. Boebert suggested that official U.S. warnings about Russia are a pretext to shore up Biden family business interests in Ukraine.

"Are we all just going to not bring up the $183,000 per month payments from Burisma to Hunter Biden as all this goes down with Ukraine right now?" Boebert tweeted Jan. 25.

Boebert phrased her claim as a rhetorical question, but the part she appeared to assert as fact is that President Joe Biden’s son Hunter received $183,000-a-month payments from Burisma, a Ukraine energy company. 

Some might read the tweet as saying the payments are ongoing, but that’s a matter of interpretation, and her office didn’t say she meant it that way, so we’ll focus on the dollar amount she cited.

Hunter Biden did get paid by Burisma, but how much isn’t known for sure. News reports about his relationship with Burisma have cited various figures, but they’re less than half the $183,000-a-month Boebert claimed. And the amounts haven’t been verified with documentation that has been made public. 

Boebert was not able to provide evidence to back up the number.  

A quick Burisma recap

When Biden was vice president in 2014, his son Hunter joined the board of Burisma. The move quickly drew attention because the vice president was deeply involved in U.S.-Ukraine relations. Burisma and its owner were suspected of corruption. The U.S. and Europe were pressing Ukraine to go after bad actors in high places, and Biden boasted that he personally told the country’s president to remove an ineffective prosecutor.

As Biden’s presidential bid gained momentum, Hunter Biden’s business affairs came into sharp focus. Trump and his campaign allies sought to show that the younger Biden’s financial interests had shaped American policy toward Ukraine. No clear evidence emerged, but Burisma’s payments to Hunter Biden were a common talking point.

Burisma payments to Hunter Biden

The numbers cited in that talking point varied widely. In 2019, Trump said Burisma paid Hunter Biden $50,000 a month. In July 2020, he said it was $83,000 a month. In a September 2020 presidential debate, Trump said Burisma paid Biden $186,000 a month.

Boebert’s office said she relied on Trump’s debate figure. It’s unclear why she would lower it to $183,000. 

Boebert spokesperson Ben Stout also offered a separate source. 

"The Daily Mail reported that Hunter Biden's consulting firm received $3.4 million over 18 months starting in 2014, totaling $188,888 per month," Stout said, citing a 2019 article.

But that’s not exactly what the article said. 

It made a distinction between Biden’s earnings and the money paid to his firm. Citing unnamed sources, it said "Hunter Biden received monthly payments of $83,333 for consulting services." The article didn’t claim that the larger amount of $3.4 million — also an unverified figure — all went to Hunter Biden.

The problem is that, so far, the paper trail on how much Burisma paid Hunter Biden is unverified. There are press reports of emails that claim to back this up, but those too lack documentation.

The closest we have to an official statement is a September 2020 report by Senate Republicans. It found that "Hunter Biden was paid as much as $50,000 per month to serve on the board of Burisma." That itself was based on news reports.

The Senate’s figure is a far cry from Boebert’s $183,000, and that Republican estimate came nearly a year after the Daily Mail article with its figure of $83,000. For whatever reason, the GOP senators did not use the Daily Mail’s figures.

As far as Boebert’s larger point, the Republican study said Hunter Biden had "cashed in" on Biden’s vice-presidency, but it stopped short of saying that Hunter Biden’s business interests shaped U.S. policy towards Ukraine. It said "Hunter Biden’s role on Burisma’s board was awkward for all U.S. officials."

Stout also pointed to a 2021 New York Post article about a laptop that seems to have belonged to Hunter Biden. The paper said that emails and invoices on the laptop confirmed the $83,333 figure. The FBI has material from the laptop, but it has not released it.

Hunter Biden’s lawyer, George Mesires, said in a statement in October 2019 that Burisma paid Biden, but he didn’t say how much. Mesires said Biden left the board in April 2019.

At some point, the public may get more details. The U.S. attorney for Delaware launched an investigation into Hunter Biden’s tax filings. Hunter Biden acknowledged in late 2020 that the investigation was underway, but there has been no official announcement in over a year.

For his part, Hunter Biden has said that while he broke no laws, his work with Burisma was a political mistake.

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Our Sources

Lauren Boebert, tweet, Jan. 25, 2022

New York Post, Hunter Biden’s Ukraine salary was cut two months after Joe Biden left office, May 26, 2021

Daily Mail, Hunter Biden 'was paid $83,333 a month by Ukrainian gas company to be a "ceremonial figure" with a "powerful name" while his firm got a total of $3.4million', Oct. 20, 2019

U.S. Senate Committees on Homeland Security and Finance, Majority Staff Report, Hunter Biden, Burisma, and Corruption: The Impact on U.S. Government Policy and Related Concerns, Sept. 23, 2020

George Mesires, A Statement on behalf of Hunter Biden, Oct. 13, 2019

Lawfare, What to Make of the Johnson-Grassley Report on Biden and Burisma, Sept. 29, 2020

C-SPAN, President Trump Says Ukraine President Should Investigate Bidens, Oct. 3, 2019

White House Archives, Remarks by President Trump in Press Conference, July 14, 2020

CNN, First U.S. Presidential Debate, Sept. 29, 2020

AFP, Donald Trump’s accusations about Hunter Biden, Sept. 30, 2020, Viral Headlines Wrongly Report Indictment in Ukraine, Nov. 27, 2019

NBC News, Email to Hunter Biden raises fresh questions about his tax dealings, Dec. 11, 2020

AP, Ukrainian energy firm hires Biden son as lawyer, June 8, 2014

JustSecurity, Timeline: Trump, Giuliani, Biden, and Ukrainegate, Jan. 31 2020

New York Times, What We Know and Don’t About Hunter Biden and a Laptop, Sept. 13, 2021

Politico, Playbook, Sept,. 21, 2021

Politico, Hunter Biden story is Russian disinfo, dozens of former intel officials say, Oct. 19, 2020

Email exchange, Ben Stout, communications director, Rep. Lauren Boebert, Jan. 26, 2022

PolitiFact, Fact-checking claims about Hunter Biden, Joe Biden, and China, Oct. 19, 2020

PolitiFact, Fact-checking Joe Biden, Hunter Biden, and Ukraine, May 7, 2019

PolitiFact, Looking at claims about Hunter Biden, and the Senate GOP report that helped fuel them, Oct. 19, 2020

PolitiFact, tA look behind the NY Post headline about Joe Biden and a Ukraine meeting, Oct. 15, 2020

PolitiFact, Donald Trump ad misleads about Joe Biden, Ukraine and the prosecutor, Oct. 11, 2019

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