Fact Check

Did Judge in Trump Jan. 6 Case Work at Same Burisma-Linked Law Firm as Hunter Biden?

U.S. District Court Judge Tanya Chutkan worked for 12 years at Boies Schiller Flexner LLP, leaving the firm in 2014.

Published Aug. 3, 2023

 (uscourts.gov)
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Claim:
U.S. District Court Judge Tanya Chutkan worked at a law firm that also employed Hunter Biden and performed work for the Ukrainian oil company Burisma.

On Aug. 1, 2023, U.S. Special Counsel Jack Smith filed and unsealed an indictment charging former President Donald Trump "with conspiring to defraud the United States, conspiring to disenfranchise voters, and conspiring and attempting to obstruct an official proceeding," in relation to his actions around the 2020 presidential election and its aftermath on Jan. 6, 2021. 

The indictment was filed in the U. S. District Court in Washington, D.C., and the judge assigned to the case — Judge Tanya Chutkan — was chosen at random from a pool of about 20 judges of that court. As reported by The Washington Post, this pool of judges has been steeped in cases related to the riotous, deadly events of Jan. 6, in which Trump supporters attempted to stop the counting of electoral college votes for U.S. President-elect Joe Biden at the U.S. Capitol.

Following her appointment to the Trump case, critics sought to identify allegedly nefarious connections in her professional history. As several Trump allies have highlighted, both Chutkan and the current president's son, Hunter Biden, worked at the high-end law firm Boies Schiller Flexner LLP (BSF). 

It is a fact that Hunter Biden and Chutkan were both employed by, or partners of, BSF. It is also factual that BSF provided services to the Ukrainian oil company Burisma, on whose board Hunter Biden served.

Chutkan worked at BSF from 2002 until the time of her appointment to the D.C. Circuit by then U.S. President Barack Obama in June 2014. She was made a partner of the firm in 2007. Biden, meanwhile, held the title of counsel at BSF from 2010 to 2014. 

After joining the board of Burisma in April 2014, as Hunter Biden described in his memoir, he recommended the consulting services of his law firm to help the company implement "corporate practices that were up to accepted ethical snuff." Burisma paid BSF at least $250,000 dollars for its work. 

In sum, it is factual that both Hunter Biden and Chutkan worked under the umbrella of Boies Schiller Flexner between 2010 and 2014, and it is also true that BSF did business with Burisma via Hunter Biden in May 2014. As such, we rate this claim as "True."

Sources

Biden, Hunter. Beautiful Things: A Memoir. Simon and Schuster, 2021.

"BSF Elects Seven New Partners." Boies Schiller Flexner LLP, https://www.bsfllp.com/news-events/bsf-elects-seven-new-partners.html. Accessed 3 Aug. 2023.

District Judge Tanya S. Chutkan | District of Columbia | United States District Court. https://www.dcd.uscourts.gov/content/district-judge-tanya-s-chutkan. Accessed 3 Aug. 2023.

"How Trump's Jan. 6 Trial Judge Tanya S. Chutkan Was Randomly Selected." Washington Post, 1 Aug. 2023, https://www.washingtonpost.com/dc-md-va/2023/08/01/judge-trump-jan-6-special-counsel/.

Ross, Chuck. "Hunter Biden-Linked Law Firm Dodged Lobbying Disclosures for Burisma Work." Washington Free Beacon, 29 June 2021, https://freebeacon.com/biden-administration/hunter-biden-linked-law-firm-dodged-lobbying-disclosures-for-burisma-work/.

Special Counsel Jack Smith's Office | Special Counsel Jack Smith Delivers Statement | United States Department of Justice. 1 Aug. 2023, https://www.justice.gov/sco-smith/speech/special-counsel-jack-smith-delivers-statement-0.

Alex Kasprak is an investigative journalist and science writer reporting on scientific misinformation, online fraud, and financial crime.