Senate Republicans have released their controversial report on Joe Biden and his son Hunter’s former dealings with Ukraine in a politically-charged move to taint Biden’s campaign weeks out from Election Day.
The investigation, which was spearheaded by Sens. Ron Johnson (R-WI) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA) focuses on Hunter Biden’s work for Ukrainian gas company Burisma Holdings—a key issue in last year’s impeachment of President Donald Trump. The probe was launched despite no evidence of any wrongdoing by Hunter Biden ever being established.
The report contains little that wasn’t already known. Its headline finding is that two Obama administration officials raised some concerns to the White House in 2015 about Hunter Biden serving on the board of Burisma, but the report does not support Trump’s baseless claim that Joe Biden tried to use his influence as Vice President to remove a Ukrainian prosecutor in order to protect his son’s gas firm.
Senate Democrats tried earlier this week to prevent the report from being published, warning that the document would only serve to amplify Russian disinformation about Biden ahead of November’s election.
The Treasury department has sanctioned Andriy Derkach, an associate who has pushed similar theories with the help of Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani, because U.S. intelligence services believe he is an active Russian agent. It was reported on Tuesday that the CIA believes President Putin is probably directing the disinformation campaign against the Bidens personally.
On Wednesday, following the publication, the Biden campaign immediately dismissed the report as politically-motivated nonsense.
Biden spokesman Andrew Bates reportedly said: “As the coronavirus death toll climbs and Wisconsinites struggle with joblessness, Ron Johnson has wasted months diverting the Senate Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs Committee away from any oversight of the catastrophically botched federal response to the pandemic, a threat Sen. Johnson has dismissed by saying that ‘death is an unavoidable part of life.’”
The report trumpets one quote as its central finding: That a State Department official, George Kent, raised concerns in 2015 with unidentified officials at the White House about Biden’s son working with Burisma. Kent wrote in one email to unidentified colleagues of his: “The presence of Hunter Biden on the Burisma board was very awkward for all U.S. officials pushing an anti-corruption agenda in Ukraine.”
However, Kent said as much to congressional investigators during his testimony last year, when he said he was worried that Hunter Biden’s position could appear like a conflict of interest, and that he had raised that issue with the White House.
Kent, who was the acting deputy chief of mission at the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine at the time, also said that the U.S. government never made a decision about Burisma that was affected by Hunter Biden’s board position.
Kent said in October last year that “in the aggregate (Hunter’s job) didn’t have any discernible effect.”