Republicans are preparing to release a report in a matter of days on their investigation focused on former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden, a move they once believed would be their final case against the Democratic nominee just weeks from the election.
However, the upcoming Supreme Court nomination fight is expected to become the centerpiece of President Trump’s reelection bid.
The controversial partisan probe, spearheaded by Sens. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), is focused broadly on Obama-era policy and Hunter Biden’s work for Ukrainian gas company Burisma Holdings.
The GOP report, which is set to be released this week, is expected to argue that Hunter Biden’s work impacted Obama-era Ukraine policy and created a conflict of interest given then-Vice President Joe Biden’s work in the area.
No evidence has indicated criminal wrongdoing by the Bidens.
President Trump was impeached over allegations he improperly sought help from Ukraine to boost his chances of re-election.
In July 2019, Trump urged his Ukrainian counterpart to investigate Biden.
In the end, the GOP senate did not convict Trump and remove him from office.
A narrative, seized on by Trump, that Biden worked to oust Ukrainian Prosecutor Viktor Shokin to protect his son has been widely discredited, though Hunter Biden has said joining the board was “poor judgement.”
“I think it’s time for the American people to see what we’ve got,” said Johnson, who chairs the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.
Though he’s argued for months that his probe isn’t being driven by the 2020 election, Johnson has teased the forthcoming findings as damaging to Biden’s political prospects and placed it in the context of the rapidly approaching November election.
“What our investigations are uncovering, I think, will reveal this is not somebody we should be electing president of the United States,” Johnson said in an interview with local Wisconsin radio station WCLO.
The release of the report will come days before the first debate between Joe Biden and Trump, with the president’s allies likely to seize on the probe’s findings and Johnson hoping it sparks new scrutiny by the media.
The document, according to Johnson, is expected to also include a section of unanswered questions he has for the Bidens.
The Wisconsin Republican’s remarks talking up the report while blasting Biden’s electoral prospects have poured fuel onto bipartisan concerns that Johnson is using his chairman’s gavel to target Trump’s political enemies.
In addition to an investigation focused on the Bidens, Johnson and Grassley are separately investigating the FBI’s Russia probe, “unmasking” and leaks from the early days of the Trump administration.
Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), a member of Johnson’s committee and the party’s 2012 presidential nominee, warned that the Biden-Burisma probe was a “political exercise.”
“It’s not the legitimate role of government for Congress or for taxpayer expense to be used in an effort to damage political opponents,” Romney said.
Frustration between Johnson and Democrats, which has been building for weeks, is spilling into the spotlight, with Democrats on and off Capitol Hill accusing him of funneling Russian disinformation weeks before the election, something he has denied and, in turn, accused his critics of doing.
“It is disgraceful enough for the chair of the Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs Committee to dismiss the worst public health crisis in generations and abandon oversight of the failed federal response to the pandemic. But to instead subsidize a foreign influence operation against the sovereignty of our elections with American taxpayer dollars, all in a vain attempt to resuscitate a conspiracy theory that hinges on Senator Johnson himself being corrupt, is tragic malfeasance,” said Andrew Bates, a spokesman for Biden’s campaign.
The tensions over Johnson and Grassley’s probe come as intelligence community officials, including FBI Director Christopher Wray, have warned that Russia is actively working to try to “denigrate” Joe Biden.
The Department of Treasury recently sanctioned Ukrainian parliamentarian Andriy Derkach, who was cited by William Evanina, the director of the National Counterintelligence and Security Center, for spreading disinformation to “undermine” the former vice president.
Democrats are worried Johnson’s report will include similar accusations about Joe Biden as those being spread by Derkach, whom Johnson has adamantly denied having contact with.
“President Trump’s Department of the Treasury sanctions Derkach, and the chairman of the committee repeats the same kind of discredited allegations that Derkach propagates. It is outrageous. It is a disgrace,” Schumer said.