GOP Senate report on Joe Biden’s son Hunter alleges conflict of interest

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WASHINGTON – Two Republican-led Senate committees on Wednesday released a politically motivated report alleging that the work of Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden’s son in Ukraine constituted a conflict of interest for the Obama administration at a time when Biden was engaged in Ukrainian politics as a vice president. President. But the report says that the impact of Hunter Biden’s position on the board of directors of a Ukrainian gas company on the Obama administration’s policy towards Ukraine is ultimately “unclear.” And he offered no evidence to support one of US President Donald Trump’s most inflammatory claims – that Joe Biden pressured Ukraine to fire its top prosecutor in order to protect his son.

Biden’s campaign immediately derailed the report, released six weeks before the election, as an effort by a Trump ally to harm his opponent in the election.

Trump has repeatedly called 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 the allegations anti-Biden is an “active Russian agent”.

Republican Senator Ron Johnson, whose Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee is one of two groups 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 “Americans Deserve the Truth” about its investigation.

The inquiry produced strong 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 released a detailed statement aimed at refuting point-by-point allegations it said had long been debunked by media organizations as well as 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 the work posed a conflict of interest because Biden was vice president at the era and was concerned with Ukrainian politics.

He refers to a 2016 email from George Kent, the former acting deputy head of mission at the Kiev embassy, ​​which described Hunter Biden’s presence on Burisma’s board of directors as “very inconvenient to all. American officials pushing anti-corruption program in Ukraine ”. Kent testified to his concerns during the impeachment proceedings against Trump last year.

Another State Department official, Amos Hochstein, is described in the report as raising concerns directly with Biden because he feared the Russians were using his son’s role in the company to sow 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 Burisma’s board of directors was problematic and interfered with the effective execution of policy at the office. respect for Ukraine, ”the report said.

“What’s more, this investigation has shown how officials in the Obama administration ignored the blatant warning signs 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 fails to describe how, if at all, specific political decisions 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 fire its chief prosecutor, Viktor Shokin, in order to block an investigation into the owner of Burisma. . 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 lay out new information about the role Biden may have had in his ouster.

The Biden campaign highlighted information and public statements showing that there was no active investigation into Burisma at the time of Shokin’s ouster in 2016, and that Shokin’s dismissal was widely sought by American and European officials and reflected the official policy of the Obama administration.

There is no evidence of any 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 climbs and Wisconsinites battle unemployment, Ron Johnson has wasted months diverting the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee from oversight of the catastrophically botched federal response to the pandemic , a threat Sen. Johnson dismissed by saying “death is an inevitable part of life,” Biden campaign spokesman Andrew Bates said in a statement.

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