Two Republican-led Senate committees issued a politically charged report on Wednesday, alleging the work Joe Bidenâs 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 despite saying Hunter Biden having a position on the board of a Ukrainian energy company was âawkward,â âproblematicâ and interfered with âefficient execution of policyâ, the report said it was ultimately âunclearâ what impact that may have had on the Obama administration policy with regard to Ukraine.
And it offered no evidence to support one of Donald Trumpâs more incendiary allegations â that Joe Biden pressured Ukraine to fire its top prosecutor as a way to protect his son.
Bidenâs 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 Bidenâs 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 âactive Russian agent.â
Republican senator 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 that his goal of making the document public before the election, was because the âAmerican people deserve the truthâ about his probe.
The investigation produced stark political divisions, with Democrats accusing Johnson of a politically motivated initiative at a time when they said the homeland security committee should be focused on the coronavirus pandemic response and other, less partisan, issues.
Even before the report was released, the Biden campaign 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 US and Ukrainian officials.
The Senate report examines Hunter Bidenâs 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 Joe 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 Kyiv embassy, that described the presence of Hunter Biden on the Burisma board as âvery awkward for all US officials pushing an anticorruption agenda in Ukraine.â
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 sonâs 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. âThe Obama administration knew that Hunter Bidenâs position on Burismaâs board was problematic,â the report states.
Even so, the Republican senators acknowledge that the extent to which Hunter Bidenâs role on the board affected Ukraine policy is âunclear,â and the report does not describe how, if at all, specific policy decisions were influenced by Bidenâs position.
Notably, the report makes limited mention of the claim by Trump and some supporters that Biden pressured Ukraine to fire its top prosecutor, Viktor Shokin, as a way to stymie an investigation into Burismaâs owner.
The allegations were central to the impeachment case against Trump after he asked Ukraineâs president in a telephone call last year to investigate the Bidens, as revealed by a whistleblower last summer.
The report includes only six references, including in footnotes, to Shokin and does not expose new information about any role Biden may have had in his ousting.
The Biden campaign pointed to news reports and public statements showing there was no active investigation into Burisma at the time of Shokinâs ousting in 2016, and that the firing of Shokin was broadly sought by US and European officials and reflected the official Obama administration policy.
Despite no evidence of wrongdoing by the Bidens, Republicans who came to Trumpâs defense in this yearâs impeachment trial asked for further investigations of his activities. Johnson, US senator for Wisconsin, and a close ally of Trump, took the lead.
âAs the coronavirus death toll climbs and Wisconsinites struggle with joblessness, Ron Johnson has wasted months diverting the â¦ committee away from any oversight of the catastrophically-botched federal response to the pandemic,â Biden campaign spokesman Andrew Bates said.
He added that Johnson had previously dismissed the threat of Covid-19 by saying: âDeath is an unavoidable part of life.â
News – Hunter Biden’s Ukraine ties ‘awkward’ but impact on US policy unclear,Â report finds