GOP chairman: Hearing on delayed Ukraine aid should wait until after House inquiry wraps

GOP chairman: Hearing on delayed Ukraine aid should wait until after House inquiry wraps
© Aaron Schwartz

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Jim RischJames (Jim) Elroy RischSenate panel to vote on Turkey sanctions next week Graham, Van Hollen warn Pompeo that 'patience' on Turkey sanctions 'has long expired' The job no GOP senator wants: 'I'd rather have a root canal' MORE (R-Idaho) told the top Democrat on his panel that any hearings into the delayed Ukraine aid at the center of the impeachment inquiry against President TrumpDonald John TrumpStates slashed 4,400 environmental agency jobs in past decade: study Biden hammers Trump over video of world leaders mocking him Iran building hidden arsenal of short-range ballistic missiles in Iraq: report MORE should wait until after the House investigation has wrapped.

Risch, in a letter dated late last month but obtained by The Hill on Tuesday, warned that issues Democrats want a hearing on, including the delayed aid, the July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and the ousting of former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Maria Yovanovitch, are "deeply intertwined with the formal House inquiry."

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"Due to the ongoing House impeachment inquiry, I believe it would be more appropriate for our committee to wait on examining these matters until after the House completes its process (one way or another)," Risch wrote in the letter to Sen. Bob MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezThe job no GOP senator wants: 'I'd rather have a root canal' Senate passes legislation supporting Hong Kong protesters Graham blocks resolution recognizing Armenian genocide after Erdoğan meeting MORE (D-N.J.).

"At the appropriate time, we will look into these matters in greater detail in consultation with the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence," Risch added.

Risch's letter was in response to a letter from Foreign Relations Committee Democrats that called on him to hold hearings, including with Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoUS, Sudan to exchange ambassadors for first time in decades Iran expert: Trump's foreign policy approach aimed at instigating 'unrest' Fox's Napolitano says obstruction 'easiest' impeachment offense for Democrats MORE, on the State Department's role in the Ukraine assistance situation, as well as a phone call at the center of the House impeachment inquiry.

During the phone call, according to a rough transcript from the White House, Trump asked Zelensky to work with Rudy GiulianiRudy GiulianiPoll: 46 percent of voters say Trump's Ukraine dealings constitute impeachable offense GOP member urges Graham to subpoena Schiff, Biden phone records Giuliani meets with fired Ukrainian prosecutor who pushed Biden, 2016 claims: report MORE, his personal lawyer, to "look into" former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenGabbard moves to New Hampshire ahead of primary Biden hammers Trump over video of world leaders mocking him Trump's legal team huddles with Senate Republicans MORE and his son Hunter Biden. Pompeo later disclosed that he was on the phone call.

The House impeachment inquiry centers on whether Trump held up the aid in an attempt to pressure Ukraine to investigate Biden, a potential 2020 political rival.

Though Risch's letter was in response to committee Democrats, it's become newly relevant after Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamTrump's legal team huddles with Senate Republicans GOP member urges Graham to subpoena Schiff, Biden phone records Trump legal team gears up for Senate impeachment trial in meeting with GOP senators MORE (R-S.C.) publicly called on him to investigate ties between Biden and Ukraine, including the State Department's role.

"We need to look at whether or not Hunter Biden corruptly engaged in lobbying. Did Joe Biden ask the prosecutor to be fired because he was investigating his son?" Graham asked during an interview on Monday with Fox News's Laura IngrahamLaura Anne IngrahamHouse GOP wants Senate Republicans to do more on impeachment Vindman's lawyer requests Fox News retract guest's allegation about espionage Overnight Health Care: GOP senator says drug price action unlikely this year | House panel weighs ban on flavored e-cigs | New York sues Juul MORE.

President Trump and his allies have latched onto Joe Biden’s connection to Ukraine as the former vice president seeks the Democratic nomination to challenge Trump in 2020.

Joe Biden pushed in 2016 for the dismissal of a Ukrainian prosecutor who had been accused of overlooking corruption in his own office. There’s no indication Joe Biden was acting with his son’s interests in mind, and the former vice president has denied doing so.