National Security

GOP chairmen accuse Democrats of ‘selective leaks’ to ‘undermine’ Biden-Ukraine probe

Greg Nash
Two GOP Senate committee chairmen are accusing Democrats of trying to undercut an ongoing investigation involving Hunter Biden and Ukraine. 
 

Sens. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), who oversee the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee and the Finance Committee, respectively, accused “one or more” Democrats of trying to “actively seek to undermine our legitimate oversight by selectively leaking information to the press.”

 

“Insofar as we requested as part of our investigation any sensitive law enforcement information regarding suspicious financial transactions, that request and any response received would be highly sensitive. Any selective leaks to publicize or confirm these actions is highly inappropriate, undermines our investigation, and risks the effectiveness of this important law enforcement tool,” they added. 

 
The joint statement comes after the office of Sen. Ron Wyden (Ore.), the top Democrat on the Finance Committee, disclosed on Thursday that the Treasury Department had been complying with a request from Johnson and Grassley as part of their months-long investigation. 
 

“For its part, the Trump administration refused to comply with all Democratic requests for documents and witnesses associated with impeachment. Applying a blatant double standard, Trump administration agencies like the Treasury Department are rapidly complying with Senate Republican requests — no subpoenas necessary — and producing ‘evidence’ of questionable origin,” Ashley Schapitl, a spokeswoman for Wyden, said in a statement.

 

Schapitl declined to discuss the substance of what was being handed over from Treasury to the GOP chairmen.

 
Schapitl added in a statement on Friday that Senate rules require the two GOP chairmen to “share investigative material. … It is not a ‘courtesy.’”
 
“Senator Wyden and his staff have not disclosed any investigative material, as every outlet has noted. It’s ridiculous to characterize an official office statement on the double standard of Trump administration cooperation with Congress as a ‘leak,'” she added.
 
In the November letter, which was not publicly released by either of the committees, Grassley and Johnson say they are “conducting an investigation into potentially improper actions by the Obama administration with respect to Burisma Holdings … and Ukraine.”  
They request any “suspicious activity reports” and related documents that have been filed in regard to Hunter Biden, the son of former Vice President Joe Biden, and Burisma.
 
According to the Treasury Department, a suspicious activity report is filed by a financial institution when they find an “initial detection of facts” pointing to a suspect activity in an account. That includes filing reports on cash transactions that exceed $10,000 and reporting activity that “might signal criminal activity,” in an effort to prevent money laundering. 
 

Johnson and Grassley have fired off a flurry of letters as they’ve probed potential conflicts of interests stemming out of the Obama administration. A GOP aide told The Hill on Thursday that they’ve been informed by the State Department that they have and are expected to hand over documents responsive to their requests.  

 
The shadowboxing between senators over the investigations is the latest sign of tension over growing GOP efforts to probe the Bidens. Besides Grassley and Johnson, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) is also pledging to do “oversight.” 
 
In addition to Democrats, several Republican senators are publicly urging their colleagues to move on after the months-long divisive impeachment fight, which centered around Trump’s decision to delay Ukraine aid and his request for President Volodymyr Zelensky to help “look into” the Bidens. 

In 2016, then-Vice President Biden pushed for the dismissal of Ukrainian Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin, who was reportedly investigating Burisma at the time.

Fact-checkers have debunked claims that Biden was acting with his son’s interest in mind. The former vice president has denied wrongdoing, and there’s no evidence that either Biden engaged in any criminal wrongdoing.

Updated: 10:28 p.m.

Tags Chuck Grassley Joe Biden Lindsey Graham Ron Johnson Ron Wyden

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