GOP Senate report on Biden son alleges conflict of interest
WASHINGTON — Two Republican-led Senate committees issued a politically charged re port Wednesday alleging that the work 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 also offered no support for President Donald Trump’s claim that the Democratic presidential nominee had improperly pressed for the firing of the country’s top prosecutor to protect his son.
The report did not implicate Biden in wrongdoing, focusing instead on his son Hunter, who it said “cashed in” on his father’s position by joining the board of a Ukrainian gas company. The document says that work created conflict-ofinterest concerns, including among two Obama administration officials, but acknowledged that it was ultimately “not clear” what impact Hunter Biden’s paid board position had on policy with Ukraine.
Biden’s campaign immediately panned the report, released six weeks before the election, as an effort by an ally of Trump’s to damage his election opponent. The campaign said the investigation was founded on “a long-disproven, hardcore rightwing conspiracy theory” and, even before the report was released, issued a detailed statement aiming to rebut point-by-point allegations that it said had long been debunked by media organizations as well as by U.S. and Ukrainian officials.
Hunter Biden’s work in Ukraine remains a prominent line of attack in conservative circles heading into the election. Trump himself has repeatedly drawn attention to the issue, with his request for Ukraine to invest i g a t e t he Bidens spurring an impeachment case against him. He’s continued to trumpet the claims even as his own administration has warned of a concerted Russian effort to denigrate Joe Biden and has asserted that a Ukrainian lawmaker who is involved in spreading an “unsubstantiated” anti-Biden narrative has been an “active Russian agent” for over a decade.
The investigation, from the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee and the Finance Committee, produced stark political divisions. Democrats have accused Republican Sen. Ron Johnson, the Homeland Security chair, of a politically motivated initiative at a time when they say the committee should be focused on the pandemic response and other, less partisan issues.
After the report was released Wednesday, Johnson defended the probe to reporters as “a good investigation” by two committees with jurisdiction over corruption and conflicts of interest.
Federal investigators are looking into whether a huge wildfire near Los Angeles was sparked by Southern California Edison utility equipment, according to the company.
Edison has turned over a section of an overhead conductor from its transmission facility in the area where the Bobcat Fire
started more than two weeks a g o, company spokesman David Song said Wednesday.
Edison will assist the U.S. Forest Service in its investigation of the fire that has burned more than two dozen homes and other buildings on its way to becoming one of the largest blazes in Los Angeles County history.
In recent years California utilities have strategically shut off power to some areas in order to prevent its equipment from sparking wildfires. Edison did not have any planned shutoffs in the days before the Bobcat Fire erupted.
Firefighters are finally starting to tame the blaze, with containment Wednesday hitting 38% — a jump from just 17% a day earlier.
Gas-powered cars: California will outlaw sales of new gasoline-powered passenger cars and trucks by 2035, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Wednesday, a move he says will cut greenhouse gas emissions by 35% in the nation’s most populous state.
His plan would not ban people from owning gaspowered cars or selling them on the used car market. But it would end the sales of all new gasolinepowered passenger cars and trucks in the state of nearly 40 million people.
“Pull away from the gas pumps,” Newsom said in announcing his executive order to state regulators to draw up guidelines. “Let us no longer be victims of geopolitical dictators that manipulate global supply chains and global markets.”
Taliban attacks: The Taliban launched a wave of attacks on security checkpoints in southern Afghanistan overnight, killing a total of 28 Afghan policemen, officials said Wednesday.
The violence comes even as Taliban leaders and Afghan government-appointed negotiators are holding historic peace talks in Qatar, a Mideast country where the Taliban set up a political office after they were toppled from power in the 2001 U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan. The negotiations, which started earlier this month, are meant to end the fighting and establish a road map for a postwar society.
Whales stranded: More pilot whales were found stranded in Australia on Wednesday, raising the estimated total to nearly 500, including 380 that have died, in the largest mass stranding ever recorded in the country.
Authorities had already been working to rescue survivors among an estimated 270 whales found Monday on a beach and two sand bars near the remote coastal town of Strahan on the southern island state of Tasmania.
Another 200 stranded whales were spotted from a helicopter Wednesday less than 6 miles to the south, Tasmania Parks and Wildlife Service Manager Nic
Deka said. All 200 had been confirmed dead by late afternoon.
Asteroid to zoom by: An asteroid the size of a school bus is headed our way, but NASA says the space rock will zoom safely past Earth on Thursday.
The newly discovered asteroid will come within 13,000 miles of Earth, well below many of the communications satellites orbiting the planet, scientists said this week.
A hunter has been killed by a grizzly bear in Alaska’s Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve.
It’s the first-known grizzly attack death in the nation’s largest national park.
Park officials said in a statement that the hunter was killed Sunday, attacked while with a friend near the Chisana River drainage. The two were on a 10-day moose hunt, authorities said.
Alaska grizzly mauling:
Rite of passage in Kenya: A Maasai warrior takes a selfie Wednesday at an Olng’esherr ceremony near Kajiado, Kenya. The ceremony, which attracted more than 10,000 Maasai from around the region, is a meat-eating rite of passage that takes place once every 15 years and marks the end of being a young warrior and the beginning of becoming an elder.