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

Aaron Schwartz

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Jim Risch (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 Trump 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.”

{mosads}”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 Menendez (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 Pompeo, 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 Giuliani, his personal lawyer, to “look into” former Vice President Joe Biden 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 Graham (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 Ingraham.

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.

Tags Bob Menendez Donald Trump Impeachment Jim Risch Joe Biden Laura Ingraham Lindsey Graham Mike Pompeo Rudy Giuliani Senate Foreign Relations Committee
See all Hill.TV See all Video