USA TODAY US Edition
GOP-led Senate panels issue Hunter Biden report
Findings: Conflict of interest; impact unclear
WASHINGTON – Two Republicanled Senate committees issued a politically charged report Wednesday alleging that the work Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s son did in Ukraine constituted a conflict of interest for the Obama administration at a time when Biden was engaged in Ukraine policy as vice president.
But the report said it was ultimately “unclear” what impact Hunter Biden’s position on the board of a Ukrainian gas company had on Obama administration policy with regard to Ukraine. And it offered no evidence to support one of President Donald Trump’s more incendiary allegations – that Joe Biden pressured Ukraine to fire its top prosecutor as a way to protect his son.
Biden’s campaign immediately panned the report, released six weeks before the election, as an effort by an ally of Trump to damage his election opponent.
Trump has repeatedly drawn attention to Hunter Biden’s work in Ukraine even as his own administration has warned of a concerted Russian effort to denigrate Joe Biden and asserted that a Ukrainian lawmaker who is involved in spreading anti-Biden claims is an “active Russian agent.”
Republican Sen. Ron Johnson, whose Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee is one of the two panels that released the 87-page report, had acknowledged in interviews his goal of making the document public before the election, telling The Associated Press last month that the “American people deserve the truth” about his probe.
The Senate report examines Hunter Biden’s dealings in Ukraine, where he held a paid seat on the board of gas company Burisma, and alleges that work posed a conflict of interest because Biden was vice president at the time and dealing with Ukraine policy.
It references a 2016 email from George Kent, the former acting deputy chief of mission at the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv, that described the presence of Hunter Biden on the Burisma board as “very awkward for all U.S. officials pushing an anticorruption agenda in Ukraine.” Kent testified about his concerns during the impeachment proceedings against Trump last year.
Another State Department official, Amos Hochstein, is described in the report as having raised concerns directly to Biden because he was concerned that Russians were using his son’s role with the company to sow disinformation.
The report says that even though State Department officials regarded the head of the company, Mykola Zlokevsky, as corrupt, Biden did not confront him.
“What the Chairmen discovered during the course of this investigation is that the Obama administration knew that Hunter Biden’s position on Burisma’s board was problematic and did interfere in the efficient execution of policy with respect to Ukraine,” the report says.
“Moreover, this investigation has illustrated the extent to which officials within the Obama administration ignored the glaring warning signs when the vice president’s son joined the board of a company owned by a corrupt Ukrainian oligarch,” it adds.
Even so, the Republican senators acknowledge that the extent to which Hunter Biden’s role on the board affected Ukraine policy is “unclear,” and the report does not describe how, if at all, specific policy decisions were influenced by Biden’s position.