Official election finance data shows the president removed international sanctions after receiving political contributions.
Joe Biden has been accused of granting a Russian gas pipeline project favors in exchange for donations to the presidential election campaign fund.
The latest Federal Election Commission (FEC) records revealed former Reagan-era U.S. Ambassador to Germany Richard Burt gave away $4,000 to the Democrat in October 2020 plus a further $10,000 to the left-wing Unite The County political action group.
Burt, who is now managing partner of McLarty Associates, is a known lobbyist for the company behind the Nord Stream 2 project, Nord Stream 2 AG–which is owned by the Russian state-run enterprise Gazprom.
The Biden administration eventually removed sanctions on May 19, allowing the new pipeline to be constructed between Russia and Germany.
BL understands this FEC data adds credibility to growing speculation among Republicans that the Democratic Party’s controversial decision to lift sanctions was a gift from Biden to the Russian state-run energy company.
If this rumor is true, it would indicate Biden broke his 2020 campaign promise not to accept donations from lobbyists.
The previous Donald Trump administration had introduced sanctions against the project back in late 2019. The former president was concerned the pipeline could expand Russia’s market share in Europe’s energy supply, and make the European market less lucrative for American liquefied natural gas exporters according to the BBC.
Burt used to be a longtime Republican Party donor before becoming a Democrat supporter in 2019. He was a key adviser to Donald Trump’s foreign policy team and even supported the former president’s first foreign policy speech.
Burt separately donated $2,800 to Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff, shortly after the California congressman became chairman of the U.S. House Intelligence Committee in March 2019.
According to the U.S. Department of State Nord Stream 2 is led by Matthias Warnig, a former East German Stasi officer and close ally of the Russian president Vladimir Putin. Although the company actively participates in sanctionable activities, Biden raised eyebrows when he refused to impose sanctions due to U.S. national interests according to Axios.
Republican lawmakers strongly criticized the Biden administration’s decision to lift sanctions.
“If the Putin regime is allowed to finish this pipeline, it will be because the Biden administration chose to let it happen,” Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas) said in a statement obtained by Politico.
“This pipeline is not a simple commercial project that could frustrate our relationship with Berlin. It is a Russian malign influence project that threatens to deepen Europe’s energy dependence on Moscow, render Ukraine more vulnerable to Russian aggression and provide billions of dollars to Putin’s coffers,” he added.
Sen. Jim Risch (R-Idaho), who is a member of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, believes removing sanctions will “only weaken the United States’ leverage in the lead up to the impending Biden-Putin summit,” according to Reuters.