Two Senate Republican committees have released a report claiming that work done by Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden’s son in Ukraine created a “potential conflict of interest” that undermined U.S. policy.
The controversial report comes just weeks before November’s presidential election and with the elder Biden leading incumbent Republican President Donald Trump in most polls.
Released on September 23 by Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Ron Johnson and Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, the report also alleges that Hunter Biden had dealings with Ukrainian, Russian, Kazakh and Chinese nationals of “questionable backgrounds,” including the wife of a former Moscow mayor.
But it also said it was “unclear” whether the former vice president altered U.S. policy or took any other actions to assist his son.
Democrats say that the Republican exercise is a politically motivated attack on Joe Biden to boost President Donald Trump’s chances in the election and they warn it could spread Russian misinformation.
In response to the release, Biden campaign spokesperson Andrew Bates slammed Johnson for diverting his committee’s attention away from the coronavirus “to subsidize a foreign attack against the sovereignty of our elections with taxpayer dollars.”
Those allegations stem in part from the U.S. Treasury blacklisting of Ukrainian lawmaker Andriy Derkach, described as “an active Russian agent,” who has been helping Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani find compromising information on the Bidens.
The chairmen have dismissed the Democrats’ criticism, describing their investigation as necessary government oversight.
The Republican senators acknowledge in their 87-page report that it is “not clear” to what extent Hunter Biden’s position on Ukrainian gas company Burisma’s board affected the Obama administration’s policy on Ukraine.
However, the report said the millions of dollars Hunter Biden received for his role with Burisma “negatively impacted” U.S. diplomatic efforts to battle corruption in Ukraine at a time when then-Vice President Biden was leading Ukraine policy. The senators described Burisma as having a “long-standing reputation for corruption.”
“Hunter Biden’s position on the board created an immediate potential conflict of interest that would prove to be problematic for both U.S. and Ukrainian officials and would affect the implementation of Ukraine policy,” the report said.
Potential conflicts of interest
The report references the concerns of two officials – George Kent, the former acting deputy chief of mission at the Kyiv Embassy, and another State Department official, Amos Hochstein – about Hunter Biden’s work and potential conflicts of interest that could undermine U.S. Ukraine policy.
Mr. Trump has repeatedly drawn attention to Hunter Biden’s work in Ukraine, including an allegation that former Vice-President Biden pressured Ukraine to fire its top prosecutor, Viktor Shokin, in an attempt to block an investigation into Burisma’s owner.
The Ukraine allegations were thought to be among activities that Mr. Trump asked Ukraine’s president to have his attorney general to investigate as part of a conversation that led to Mr. Trump’s impeachment trial earlier this year.
Mr. Trump became the third U.S. president to be impeached after a whistle-blower complaint and accusations that he had improperly withheld congressionally allocated spending and improperly pressured new Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy into trying to dig up dirt on the Bidens.
The report does not expose new information about Mr. Shokin’s sacking and provides no conclusion that Joe Biden pressured Ukraine to fire its top prosecutor as a way to protect his son.
Democrats have pointed out there was no active investigation into Burisma at the time of Mr. Shokin’s ouster in 2016, and European governments also supported the policy.
In addition to examining the Obama administration’s Ukraine policy, the Republican report made stinging allegations that Hunter Biden and his associates received millions of dollars from foreign nationals with “questionable backgrounds.”
“The Treasury records acquired by the chairmen show potential criminal activity relating to transactions among and between Hunter Biden, his family, and his associates with Ukrainian, Russian, Kazakh and Chinese nationals,” the report states.
“These foreign nationals have questionable backgrounds that have been identified as being consistent with a range of criminal activities, including but not limited to organized prostitution and/or human trafficking, money laundering, fraud and embezzlement.”
Additionally, the report states these financial transactions pose “serious counterintelligence and extortion concerns.”
The report used financial records to find that Hunter Biden and his business partner, Devon Archer, received a wire transfer of $3.5 million in 2014 from Russian businesswoman Elena Baturina, the wife of late Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov.
It also stated that Archer received $142,300 for a car from Kenges Rakishev, the son-in-law of former Kazakh politician Imangali Tasmagambetov. The payment occurred around the time when former Vice-President Joe Biden was visiting Ukraine in April 2014.
With reporting by AP.
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