GOP Senators Ramp Up Biden Probe
With the House impeaching President Trump for trying to coerce Ukraine to announce investigations of the Bidens, three Republican Senate committee chairmen ramped up their own efforts to do just that Wednesday.
In an announcement released as debate raged over articles of impeachment against Trump in House, Sens. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) revealed they are seeking testimony and records from five Obama administration officials.
They include Tony Blinken, who was a Deputy Secretary of State; Amos Hochstein, a former senior advisor on international energy affairs to Vice President Joe Biden; Catherine Novelli, who was the Under Secretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy, and the Environment; Victoria Nuland, the former Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, and David Wade, who has Secretary of State John Kerry's chief of staff.
"These interview requests continue the chairmen’s oversight efforts related to potential conflicts of interest and political influence by Ukrainian elements, including the natural gas firm Burisma, which employed Hunter Biden as a board member while his father was vice president and the public face of the Obama administration’s handling of Ukraine," the chairmen's announcement of the requests said.
Their efforts echo allegations circulated by right-leaning media reports, which argue Joe Biden succeeded in getting a Ukrainian prosecutor removed because he was investigating Burisma, though they offered no evidence. The Democrats' investigation into Trump's pressuring of Ukraine did reveal that some officials were concerned by Hunter Biden's position and the appearance of a conflict of interest.
However, several also testified that Biden was carrying out the wishes of the administration and the United States' European allies. They also said that the prosecutor in question, Viktor Shokin, needed to be removed because he was not prosecuting corruption, and replaced with someone who would be more likely to pursue companies such as Burisma.
The allegation of political influence by Ukraine has been labeled a Kremlin talking point by intelligence officials.
The lawmakers gave the five former officials until Dec. 23 to respond.
Joe Biden's campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.