GOP Tries to Rekindle Hunter Biden Dispute With Few Findings
(Bloomberg) -- Two Senate Republican committee chairmen sought to revive allegations around Democratic nominee Joe Biden’s son six weeks before the election, yet their report broke little new ground in finding that Hunter Biden’s role on the board of a Ukrainian natural gas company put State Department officials in an “awkward” position.
“Dedicated career-service individuals” pushing to fight corruption in Ukraine were troubled that the son of then-Vice President Biden took a paid position in 2014 on the board of Burisma Holdings, an energy company owned by a corrupt oligarch, according to the 87-page interim report.
The findings issued Wednesday by Senators Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, head of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, and Chuck Grassley of Iowa, chairman of the Finance Committee, into Hunter Biden’s allegedly “extensive and complex financial transactions” don’t disclose any impact on policy, or prove wrongdoing.
But the Republicans asserted that the younger Biden’s foreign financial entanglements raised concerns about conflicts of interest as well as “criminal financial, counterintelligence and extortion concerns.”
President Donald Trump and his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani have asserted that Vice President Biden sought the ouster of a prosecutor in Ukraine who was investigating Hunter Biden. The House impeached Trump for pressing Ukraine’s president to find evidence to back up the theory. In fact, Joe Biden represented the U.S. and European allies in seeking the ouster of the prosecutor as corrupt.
The Republican senators detailed millions of dollars in transactions and payments that they said came from Chinese businessmen with ties to the Chinese government as well as $3.5 million from the widow of the former mayor of Moscow for a “consultancy agreement” with a firm co-founded by Hunter Biden.
Trump tweeted, “Wow, big news.”
Biden campaign spokesman Andrew Bates dismissed the Republican report, lashing out particularly at Johnson. Bates said in a statement that the senator diverted his committee from oversight of the “catastrophically botched federal response” to the coronavirus pandemic to promote a “long-disproven, hard-core right-wing conspiracy theory” to “bail out Donald Trump’s re-election campaign.”
Hunter Biden has said that in hindsight, serving on Burisma’s board may have been “poor judgment,” though he maintains he didn’t do anything improper.
House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff, a California Democrat, said in a statement that “the Kremlin must be very pleased” because the Republican report is “an election-year hit job that uses as its very basis Russian disinformation -- all for the purpose of benefiting Trump politically, tarnishing his election opponent, and cheating in the November election.”
Senator Gary Peters of Michigan, the top Democrat on the Homeland panel, pointed out that Johnson has refused to make public all of the witness transcripts from his inquiry. Peters said it’s “unconscionable that the chairmen are continuing to advance false information intended to undermine our democratic process at the expense of the bipartisan work we should be doing to protect our national security.”
Democrats issued a minority report saying the evidence confirms that “there was no corruption, wrongdoing or impropriety on the part of Vice President Biden.”
The Trump administration, which has refused to cooperate with Democratic inquiries into the president and his aides, worked with the Republicans in their probe and handed over multiple documents.
Although the Republican report cites George Kent as one of the State Department officials who found Hunter Biden’s role awkward, Kent testified during the House impeachment hearings that Joe Biden did nothing wrong.
Asked if there was any factual basis to support allegations against Biden, Kent replied: “None whatsoever.” He also testified that he didn’t witness any efforts by any U.S. official to shield Burisma from scrutiny and said it’s “a fair assessment” that Biden was fighting corruption in Ukraine and Trump wasn’t.
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