The GOP Went Hard Investigating Hunter Biden and All They Found Was Some 'Awkwardness'

Democrats and the Biden campaign slammed the report as a naked attempt to bring down the Democratic presidential nominee.
September 23, 2020, 7:02pm
Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden speaks during a Biden for President Black economic summit at Camp North End in Charlotte, N.C., Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2020. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Want the best of VICE News straight to your inbox? Sign up here.

Senate Republicans released a partisan report on Wednesday that took aim at the Ukrainian business dealings of Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden’s son Hunter.

But the report presents little information that wasn’t already publicly known for months. The text recycles testimony and news clippings that hardly make the bombshell case its GOP authors had advertised.

The report amounts to a second attempt to tar Biden with allegations of corruption over his son’s paid position on the board of a Ukrainian gas company called Burisma. A first try by the president’s allies got Trump impeached for allegedly attempting to ask Ukraine to investigate the Bidens.

Now, Trump’s boosters in the Senate are trying the same angle of attack again, just weeks before the Nov. 3 election.

The 87-page report entitled “Hunter Biden, Burisma and Corruption: The Impact on U.S. Government Policy and Related Concerns,” asserts that Hunter’s paid position at Burisma was “problematic and did interfere in the efficient execution of policy with respect to Ukraine.”

The report alleges that Hunter Biden “cashed in on Joe Biden’s vice presidency” and cites a top U.S. diplomat calling the situation “very awkward.”

The document essentially accuses Hunter of turning his dad’s tenure in the White House into a money-making opportunity abroad, creating what the document calls “awkwardness for Obama administration officials.”

But it concludes that “the extent to which Hunter Biden’s role on Burisma’s board affected U.S. policy toward Ukraine is not clear.”

Democrats and the Biden campaign slammed the report as a naked attempt to bring down the Democratic presidential nominee, in part by using what they called recycled Russian disinformation.

The report is partly based on the correspondence of a former Ukrainian diplomat named Andrii Telizhenko, who collaborated with Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani during the first attempt to get Ukraine to investigate Joe and Hunter Biden.

Telizhenko has promoted the conspiracy theory that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 U.S. election — a notion that reportedly dovetails with Russian messaging. U.S. intelligence officials briefed the Senate about Russian efforts to frame Ukraine for its own 2016 election meddling, according to The New York Times. Telizhenko also worked as a consultant for Blue Star Strategies, a lobbying firm that at one point worked for Burisma.

Telizhenko has dismissed any criticism of his role as “a smear campaign against anybody who comes out with the truth against the Democratic Party.”

Democrats also seized on claims by Ukrainian lawmaker Andrii Derkach, who said he sent documents to the Republican senators to help their investigation. The U.S. Treasury Department sanctioned Derkach as a Russian agent earlier this month.

“Derkach, a Member of the Ukrainian Parliament, has been an active Russian agent for over a decade, maintaining close connections with the Russian Intelligence Services,” the Treasury Department said on Sept. 10. “Derkach has directly or indirectly engaged in, sponsored, concealed, or otherwise been complicit in foreign interference in an attempt to undermine the upcoming 2020 U.S. presidential election.”

The Republican senators who led the investigation, Ron Johnson and Chuck Grassley, have repeatedly denied relying on any information sent by Derkach. But Democrats were hardly mollified.

“With the release of this report and two Senate Committee Chairs promoting the same Russian disinformation, the Kremlin must be very pleased,” Democratic House Intelligence Committee chairman Adam Schiff, one of the key organizers of Trump’s impeachment, said in a statement Wednesday.

Biden spokesman Andrew Bates accused Johnson of trying to “subsidize a foreign attack on our election with taxpayer dollars.”

Johnson, chair of the Senate’s Committee on Homeland Security and one of the key authors of the report, has explicitly called his investigation of Hunter Biden a way to help Trump win reelection.

“The more that we expose of the corruption of the transition process between Obama and Trump, the more we expose of the corruption within those agencies, I would think it would certainly help Donald Trump win reelection and certainly be pretty good, I would say, evidence about not voting for Vice President Biden,” Johnson said during a radio interview in August.

Some Democratic supporters of Joe Biden have acknowledged that Hunter’s position on the board of Burisma presented the perception of a conflict of interest for former Vice President Joe Biden at a time when Biden was setting U.S. policy toward Ukraine. Hunter Biden has denied wrongdoing, while branding his own decision to take the board seat as “poor judgement.”

House Democrats impeached Trump for asking Ukraine to investigate the Bidens last year, while withholding almost $400 million in vital military aid from the country, which has been fighting a smoldering war with Russia on its eastern border.