The office of former President Obama privately condemned a congressional investigation into former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenBiden to meet House Dems before Europe trip: report 21 House Democrats call for removing IRS bank reporting proposal from spending bill Overnight Health Care — Presented by Altria — Vulnerable House Dems push drug pricing plan MORE and his son’s ties to Ukraine, describing it as an attempt "to shift the blame for Russian interference in the 2016 election to Ukraine,” according to a letter obtained by BuzzFeed News.
Obama’s office in a March 13 note to the National Archives and Records Administration — which maintains presidential records — blasted a records request from Republican Sens. Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonA pandemic of hyper-hypocrisy is infecting American politics Sen. Ron Johnson hoping for Democratic 'gridlock' on reconciliation package Republicans' mantra should have been 'Stop the Spread' MORE (Wis.) and Chuck GrassleyChuck GrassleyBipartisan lawmakers target judges' stock trading with new bill Another voice of reason retires Overnight Health Care — Presented by Carequest — FDA moves to sell hearing aids over-the-counter MORE (Iowa) as improper.
“It arrives out of efforts by some, actively supported by Russia, to shift the blame for Russian interference in the 2016 election to Ukraine,” Obama’s records representative said in the letter.
It points to testimony Fiona Hill, a former top Russia analyst for the White House, provided in November during the impeachment hearings against President TrumpDonald TrumpOvernight Defense & National Security — Presented by Boeing — Milley warns of 'Sputnik moment' for China WSJ publishes letter from Trump continuing to allege voter fraud in PA Oath Keeper who was at Capitol on Jan. 6 runs for New Jersey State Assembly MORE. Trump's dealings with Ukraine were at the heart of Democrats' impeachment effort. He was impeached in the House, but later acquitted in the GOP-controlled Senate.
Hill said the theory that Ukraine, not Russia, carried out a campaign to sow discord during the 2016 presidential election “is a fictional narrative that has been perpetrated and propagated by the Russian security services themselves.”
"The request for early release of presidential records in order to give credence to a Russian disinformation campaign — one that has already been thoroughly investigated by a bipartisan congressional committee — is without precedent," said the letter from Obama’s office.
The Obama representative goes on to write that the requested records would be released but only "in the interest of countering the misinformation campaign underlying this request.
"In doing so, we emphasize that abuse of the special access process strikes at the heart of presidential confidentiality interests and undermines the statutory framework and norms that govern access to presidential records," the letter concluded.
Federal law mandates that former presidents, as well as the current president, are allowed to review and claim executive privilege over records requests. Neither representatives for Obama nor Trump asserted privilege, according to the National Archives.
"Since 2017, the Office of President Obama has produced 12,880 pages of presidential records in response to special access requests from the White House and Congress," the letter said.
BuzzFeed noted that it is unclear what information is included in the Obama administration records turned over to the Republican senators.
Johnson and Grassley, who chair the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs and the Finance committees, respectively, have sent a flurry of letters digging into potential wrongdoing stemming from the Obama administration.
The influential chairmen are continuing to push ahead with a wide-ranging probe related to the Bidens and Ukraine, including Hunter Biden’s work for Ukrainian energy company Burisma Holdings.
Republicans have publicly insisted that their efforts to investigate Joe Biden has nothing to do with the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee’s current campaign.
"The accusation that our oversight gives ‘credence to a Russian disinformation campaign’ is unfounded," Johnson spokesperson Austin Altenburg said in a statement to BuzzFeed regarding the Obama letter.
Altenburg added that "real Russian disinformation" was contained in a dossier on Trump and Russia compiled in 2016 by former MI6 agent Christopher Steele.
"Baseless accusations aside, our legitimate oversight will continue until we get answers for the American people.”