Much of the Republican report covers information that was an integral part of the GOP defense during the impeachment trial of Trump last year. The report concludes that “Hunter Biden’s position on Burisma’s board of directors was problematic and hampered the effective implementation of policies related to Ukraine,” while he and other Biden relatives “benefited from Joe Biden’s vice presidency.”
At the same time, the report said: “To what extent Hunter Biden̵
Senior Democratic Senators slammed the GOP report, saying its key findings were false and “based on known Russian disinformation efforts”. The evidence gathered, they argued, showed no wrongdoing on the part of Joe Biden.
“Chairman Johnson has repeatedly and publicly attacked Vice President Biden on the basis of classified evidence allegedly obtained,” said the Democrats in their rival report, refuting Johnson’s conclusion. “Contrary to his public allegations, the chairman’s investigation found no evidence that the former vice president did anything wrong in his efforts to establish an official US foreign policy in Ukraine.”
The Democrats added, “All of the first-hand witnesses testified that Hunter Biden’s position on Burisma’s board of directors had no impact on US foreign policy.”
Hunter Biden got a lucrative job on the Burisma board of directors while Joe Biden was vice president. At that time, Joe Biden and the Obama administration were trying to root out corruption in Ukraine.
The Republicans’ report details how at least two government officials, current Deputy Assistant Secretary of State George Kent and former International Energy Ambassador Amos Hochstein, raised concerns that “Russian actors” might try to undermine Biden’s anti-corruption message in Ukraine by highlighting them his son’s affiliation with Burisma. In 2015, Hochstein raised these concerns directly with the Vice President and his son.
Kent testified in the impeachment investigation against Trump last year, denying allegations that Joe Biden did something wrong, saying the former vice president’s actions were in line with US policy.
Democrats argue that Johnson “repeatedly attacked” Biden, citing his recent comments suggesting that the report would shed light on Biden’s “inability to hold office,” as reported by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel to argue that the entire investigation was orchestrated as smear campaign in favor of Trump.
In a statement released prior to the report’s release, Biden campaign spokesman Andrew Bates accused Johnson of attempting to “subsidize a foreign attack on the sovereignty of our elections with taxpayers’ money – an attack targeting one Long-refuted, right-wing conspiracy theory depends on Senator Johnson being corrupt himself and on the Senator now expressly declaring that he is trying to take advantage of Donald Trump’s re-election campaign to save her. “
Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), The senior finance committee member, called the report a “sham investigation” and “an attempted political hit sponsored by the State Department” designed to “fuel Russian disinformation.”
The investigation, launched last year, had been controversial from the start when Democrats accused Johnson and Grassley of conducting the investigation to counter the House impeachment of Trump, which was pressuring Ukrainian officials, the Bidens to investigate.
Johnson and Grassley have defended the investigation as a legitimate investigation into potential abuse of access to power. But the stalemate took a darker turn this summer when Democrats accused Johnson of laundering Russian disinformation through his investigation – an indictment that Johnson and Grassley have vehemently denied.
The allegation is based in part on public statements by Andrii Derkach, a Ukrainian lawmaker who previously belonged to a pro-Russian party and claimed to have sent documents to Johnson and Grassley to aid their investigation. In her counter-argument, Sen. Gary Peters (D-Mich.), A member of the Wyden and Homeland Security Committee, wrote that the Johnson and Grassley report “is a result of Mr. Derkach’s electoral lobbying efforts.”
Johnson and Grassley have repeatedly stated that they have had no contact with Derkach, who was sanctioned by the Treasury Department as an “active Russian agent” earlier this month.
But Johnson had contact with another Ukrainian citizen, former diplomat Andriy Telizhenko, who once worked as an advisor to Blue Star Strategies, a lobbying firm that worked on behalf of Burisma. Telizhenko has theorized that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 election to empower Hillary Clinton and undermine Trump. Recently he also released unverified transcripts of tapes reflecting conversations between Biden and former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko – tapes Derkach also released.
The Democrats’ counter-arguments said Telizhenko had “close ties” with Derkach and accused him of “translating Mr. Derkach’s allegations” in order to “produce Russian disinformation for an American audience”.
Johnson and Grassley have said they verified all of Telizhenko’s information through other sources. Although both Ukrainians have a relationship with the president’s lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani, Telizhenko told the Post earlier this month that he barely knew Derkach and had made every effort to stay away from him.
The panel interviewed about a dozen witnesses in the investigation, including Blue Star employees. The panel also interviewed Hochstein and former Deputy Foreign Minister Antony Blinken, both close Biden advisors, as well as two current Ambassadors, Geoffrey Pyatt, who was previously the top diplomat in Ukraine, and Bridget Brink, who was previously Deputy Deputy Secretary of State with Responsibility for Ukraine. Kent, Former Deputy Secretary of State Victoria Nuland, National Security Council Director for Eastern Europe Liz Zentos, and David Wade, former Chief of Staff to Secretary of State John F. Kerry, also spoke to investigators.
Last week the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee voted to release the minutes of all interviews along with the report, but the minutes were not made available to the media early Wednesday morning. Peters protested the decision in a letter to Johnson late Tuesday evening, saying his “violation of the unanimous vote of this committee … would further weaken the committee’s ability to exercise its responsibilities effectively on behalf of the public in the future.”