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Report on Hunter Biden Shows Connection to Ukraine 'Problematic,

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Report on Hunter Biden Shows Connection to Ukraine 'Problematic,

2020-09-25 10:15:19

By Laura Tucker, Staff writer; Image: Hunter Biden (Image source: Screenshot)

Time is ticking. The presidential election is just six weeks away. If Donald Trump, Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Chair Ron Johnson (R-WI), and Senate Finance Chair Charles Grassley (R-IA) are going to convince the American public they shouldn't vote for Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, they need to act quickly. The two Senate leaders have finally released the report on Hunter Biden’s business ties with Ukraine, in an apparent attempt to lure voters away from him.

When Bidden was still vice president, son Hunter took a seat on the board of a Ukrainian energy company, Burisma. At the time, his father was trying to prove there was corruption in Ukraine.

Last year, knowing Biden had a good chance of becoming the Democratic presidential nominee, Trump started poking around trying to prove a conspiracy theory that Biden was using his office to help his son financially. His attorney, Rudy Giuliani, was preparing to visit Ukraine on a fact-finding mission.

Trump committed the ultimate blunder and asked the new Ukrainian president to investigate the Bidens. A whistleblower spread that around, and the House impeached him, though the Senate acquitted him the next month. But Johnson and Grassley are still pushing that theory.

The two released a report of their investigation into the, with much if it uncovered already when Trump was being acquitted. It concludes, "Hunter Biden's position on Burisma's board was problematic and did interfere in the efficient execution of policy with respect to Ukraine." It also said he and other relatives "cashed in on Joe Biden's vice presidency."

The report stated that "the extent to which Hunter Biden's role on Burisma's board affected U.S. policy toward Ukraine is not clear." While they didn't find it affected U.S. policy, they also didn't find it didn't affect U.S. policy.

Top-ranked Democratic senators were critical of the Republican report. They said the report's key findings were false and "rooted in a known Russian disinformation effort."

"Chairman Johnson repeatedly impugned Vice President Biden in public on the basis of secret evidence he claimed to have obtained," said Democrats in a report that rebutted the other's conclusion. "Contrary to his public insinuations, the chairmen's investigation found no evidence that the former vice president did anything wrong in his efforts to carry out official U.S. foreign policy in Ukraine."

"All firsthand witnesses testified that Hunter Biden's position on the board of Burisma had no impact whatsoever on United States foreign policy," continued the Democrats.

Johnson and Grassley said in the report that current deputy assistant secretary of state George Kent and former international energy envoy Amos Hochstein raised concerns that "Russian actors" may try to undermine the anti-corruption message of Joe Biden's in Ukraine by showcasing Hunter Biden's Burisma affiliation. Hochstein expressed his concerns directly to the Bidens.

However, last year during the House's impeachment investigation, Kent testified that Joe Biden didn't do anything wrong and said his actions were consistent with U.S. policy.

Democrats charged that Johnson has "repeatedly impugned" Biden, specifically pointing out Johnson's recent comments that the report would show the former vice president's "unfitness for office." They wemt on to make the case that the entire probe was meant to smear Biden to boost Trump's chances in the election.

Before the report was released, Biden campaign spokesman Andre Bates issued a statement that accused Johnson of trying "to subsidize a foreign attack against the sovereignty of our elections with taxpayer dollars — an attack founded on a long-disproven, hardcover right-wing conspiracy theory that hinges on Sen. Johnson himself being corrupt and that the senator has now explicitly stated he is attempting to exploit to bail out Donald Trump's reelection campaign."

Hunter Biden's 26-year-old daughter Naomi posted several notes to Twitter, celebrating her dad. In one, she wrote, "Though the whole world knows his name, no one knows who he is."

"Here's a thread on my dad, Hunter Biden — free of charge to the taxpayers and free of the corrosive influence of power-at-all-costs politics. The truth of a man filled with love, integrity, and human struggles," Naomi Biden prefaced the remaining posts.

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), the ranking Democrat on Grassley's Finance Committee, referred to the report as a "sham investigation" and "an attempted political hit job facilitated by the State Department" that serves to "push Russian disinformation."

While Democrats have said from the beginning that Biden and Grassley's investigation was just a measure meant to counter Trump's impeachment, the two Senate leaders defended it as legitimate, to find potential abuses of power.

However, Johnson was accused of laundering Russian disinformation through the investigation. Democrats came to this from public statements by Ukrainian lawmaker Andriy Derkach, who was previously in a pro-Russian party. He claimed to have sent documents to the two Senate leaders to help them with their problem. Johnson and Grassley deny this.

Johnson has also had contact with Ukrainian national Andriy Telizhenko, a former consultant for Blue Star Strategies, a lobbying firm that worked with Burisma. It was Telizhenko's theory that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 election with the purpose of helping Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

More recently, he and Derkach have been publishing unverified transcripts of recordings that were allegedly recorded conversations between Biden when he was vice president and then-president Petro Poroshenko of Ukraine. 

The report discusses Hunter Biden's business ties with foreign individuals and entities during his father's time in office as vice president and after. They say these transactions "illustrate serious counterintelligence and extortion concerns relating to Hunter Biden and his family."

Joe Biden vowed last year that his family would not take part in foreign business if he were elected president. "They will not be engaged in any foreign business because of what's happened in this administration," he said. "No one is going to be seeking patents for things from China. No one is going to be engaged in that kind of thing."

The report suggests that while Biden was vice president, companies associated with Hunter Biden received money from Yelena Baturina, a Russian widow of former Moscow mayor Yuri Luzhkov. It's not clear whether this money went directly to the younger Biden or whether it was through his business partner, Devon Archer.

An attorney for Hunter Biden, George Mesires, said the GOP report "falsely alleges that Hunter Biden had a financial relationship with Russian businesswoman Yelena Baturina and that he received $3.5 million from Baturina." Mesires claims his client did not have an interest in and was "not a co-founder of" the company paid by Baturina.

Also detailed in the report are transactions from after Biden had left the vice presidency. They mostly involve Chinese oil tycoon Ye Jianming. Chinese authorities took him into custody in 2018 after he was convicted in a U.S. court of bribing officials in Chad and Uganda.

The New York Times states Ye dealt with Hunter Biden and Joe Biden's brother James Biden while trying to create influence in the United States. Hunter Biden was paid $1 million to represent Ye's aide when he was facing charges in the U.S.

A subsidiary of Ye's company wired $5 million into the bank account of a U.S. company called Hudson West III in 2017. This company sent millions as consulting fees to Hunter Biden's firm. The firm also sent money to a firm associated with James and Sara Biden, according to the report.

That same year, Hunter Biden and a financier associated with Ye opened a line of credit for Hudson West III. Created cards were authorized for Hunter Biden, James Biden, and Sara Biden, said the report. Those cards were used on purchases of more than $100,000.

Hunter Biden said in an interview last year that he was working with Ye to identify investments in the U.S. The deal fell through, he said, after Chinese authorities detained Ye. He told the New Yorker he didn't consider Ye to be "a shady character at all" and that the situation was "bad luck." 

The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee last week voted to release the transcript of all interviews alongside the report. However, the transcripts weren't offered to the media until Wednesday.

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