WASHINGTON (AP) – Two Senate committees led by Republicans released a politically charged report on Wednesday alleging that the work of the son of Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden in Ukraine constituted a conflict of interest for the Obama administration at a time when Biden was engaged in Ukrainian politics as vice president.
But the report said it was ultimately “unclear” what impact Hunter Biden’s position on the board of directors of a Ukrainian gas company had on the Obama administration’s policy on the issue. ‘Ukraine. And he offered no evidence to support one of President Donald Trump’s most inflammatory claims – that Joe Biden pressured Ukraine to sack its chief prosecutor in order to protect his son.
Biden’s campaign immediately dismissed the report, released six weeks before the election, as an effort by a Trump ally to harm his electoral opponent.
Trump has repeatedly drawn attention to Hunter Biden’s work in Ukraine even as his own administration warned of a concerted Russian effort to disparage Joe Biden and claimed that a Ukrainian lawmaker involved in spreading claims anti-Biden is an “active Russian agent”.
Republican Senator Ron Johnson, whose Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee is one of two panels that released the 87-page report, had acknowledged in interviews his goal of making the document public ahead of the election, saying to The Associated Press last month that the “The American People Deserve the Truth” about his investigation.
The inquiry produced sharp political divisions, with Democrats accusing Johnson of a politically motivated move at a time when they said the Homeland Security Committee should focus on responding to the coronavirus pandemic and others less partisan questions. Even before the report was released, the Biden campaign issued a detailed statement aimed at rebutting the point-by-point allegations that it says have long been refuted by the media as well as by US and Ukrainian officials.
The Senate report examines Hunter Biden’s dealings in Ukraine, where he held a paid seat on the board of directors of gas company Burisma, and alleges that this work posed a conflict of interest because Biden was vice president at the era and was engaged in Ukrainian politics.
He refers to a 2016 email from George Kent, the former acting deputy head of mission at the Kiev embassy, ââwho described Hunter Biden’s presence on Burisma’s board of directors as “very embarrassing for all American officials pushing an anti-corruption program in Ukraine ““. Kent spoke of his concerns during the impeachment proceedings against Trump last year.
Another State Department official, Amos Hochstein, is described in the report as having raised his concerns directly with Biden because he feared the Russians would use his son’s role in the company to sow the seeds. disinformation.
The report says that although State Department officials viewed company chief Mykola Zlokevsky as corrupt, Biden did not confront him.
“What the Presidents discovered during this investigation is that the Obama administration knew that Hunter Biden’s position on the Burisma board of directors was problematic and interfered with the effective execution of policy regarding the Ukraine, “the report says.
âMoreover, this investigation illustrated how officials in the Obama administration ignored the blatant red flags when the vice president’s son joined the board of directors of a company owned by a corrupt Ukrainian oligarch. He adds.
Even so, Republican senators acknowledge that the extent to which Hunter Biden’s role on the board affected Ukrainian politics is “unclear” and the report does not describe how, if any, specific political decisions are made. were influenced by Biden’s position.
Notably, the report makes limited mention of the claim by Trump and some supporters that Biden pressured Ukraine to sack its chief prosecutor, Viktor Shokin, in order to thwart an investigation into Burisma’s owner. . The allegations were at the heart of the impeachment case against Trump after asking the Ukrainian president in a phone call last year to investigate the Bidens.
The report includes only six references, including in footnotes, to Shokin and does not expose new information about the role Biden may have had in his ouster.
The Biden campaign highlighted reports and public statements showing that there had been no active investigation into Burisma at the time of Shokin’s ouster in 2016, and that Shokin’s sacking was widely sought by officials. Americans and Europeans and reflected the official policy of the Obama administration.
There is no evidence of wrongdoing on the part of the Bidens, and Hunter Biden has denied using his influence with his father to help Burisma. But Republicans who came to Trump’s defense in this year’s impeachment trial have called for further investigations into his activities. Johnson, a close ally of Trump, has taken the lead.
As coronavirus death toll rises and Wisconsin residents grapple with unemployment, Ron Johnson has wasted months distracting the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee from oversight of the federal response catastrophically botched up to the pandemic, a threat Senator Johnson dismissed as “death is an inevitable part of life,” Biden campaign spokesman Andrew Bates said in a statement.