Republicans are preparing to release a report in a matter of days on their investigation focused on former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenMomentum growing among Republicans for Supreme Court vote before Election DayTrump expects to nominate woman to replace Ginsburg next weekVideo of Lindsey Graham arguing against nominating a Supreme Court justice in an election year goes viral MORE and his son Hunter Biden, a move they hope will put fresh scrutiny on the Democratic nominee just weeks from the election.
The controversial probe, spearheaded by Sens. Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonThe Hill’s Morning Report – Sponsored by The Air Line Pilots Association – White House moves closer to Pelosi on virus relief billSecond GOP senator to quarantine after exposure to coronavirusGOP-led panel to hear from former official who said Burisma was not a factor in US policyMORE (R-Wis.) and Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleySenate Republicans face tough decision on replacing GinsburgWhat Senate Republicans have said about election-year Supreme Court vacanciesBiden says Ginsburg successor should be picked by candidate who wins on Nov. 3MORE (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 Bidens work impacted Obama-era Ukraine policy and created a conflict of interest given then-Vice President Joe Bidens work in the area.
No evidence has indicated criminal wrongdoing by the Bidens. A narrative, seized on by President TrumpDonald John TrumpUS reimposes UN sanctions on Iran amid increasing tensionsJeff Flake: Republicans ‘should hold the same position’ on SCOTUS vacancy as 2016Trump supporters chant ‘Fill that seat’ at North Carolina rallyMORE, 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 its time for the American people to see what weve got, said Johnson, who chairs the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.
Though hes argued for months that his probe isnt being driven by the 2020 election, Johnson has teased the forthcoming findings as damaging to Bidens political prospects and placed it in the context of the rapidly approaching November election.
[W]hat 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 Biden and Trump, with the presidents allies likely to seize on the probe’s findings and Johnson hoping it sparks new scrutiny by the media.
The report was initially expected to be released in July, but Johnson has faced delays in getting documents and interviews for the investigation.
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 Trumps political enemies.
In addition to an investigation focused on the Bidens, Johnson and Grassley are separately investigating the FBIs Russia probe, unmasking and leaks from the early days of the Trump administration.
Sen. Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyMomentum growing among Republicans for Supreme Court vote before Election DayToobin: McConnell engaging in ‘greatest act of hypocrisy in American political history’ with Ginsburg replacement vote The Memo: Court battle explodes across tense election landscapeMORE (R-Utah), a member of Johnsons committee and the partys 2012 presidential nominee, warned that the Biden-Burisma probe was a political exercise.
Its 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, has 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 Bidens campaign.
Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerVideo of Lindsey Graham arguing against nominating a Supreme Court justice in an election year goes viral Graham signals support for confirming a Supreme Court nominee this yearPelosi orders Capitol flags at half-staff to honor GinsburgMORE (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenGOP senator blocks Schumer resolution aimed at Biden probe as tensions run highRepublican Senators raise concerns over Oracle-TikTok dealHillicon Valley: TikTok, Oracle seek Trump’s approval as clock winds down | Hackers arrested for allegedly defacing U.S. websites after death of Iranian general | 400K people register to vote on SnapchatMORE (Ore.), the top Democrat on the Finance Committee, tried to pass a resolution aimed at the GOPs Biden probe.
Underscoring the tension over the probe, aides and lawmakers told The Hill they were warned beforehand that there was concern they would violate the Senates Rule 19. They were also given warnings while speaking about not violating the rule, underscoring the concern from Senate staff.
The rule says that no Senator in debate shall, directly or indirectly, by any form of words impute to another Senator or to other Senators any conduct or motive unworthy or unbecoming a Senator. Its rarely invoked, but Republicans did use it to temporarily sideline Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenBiden’s fiscal program: What is the likely market impact?Warren, Schumer introduce plan for next president to cancel ,000 in student debtThe Hill’s 12:30 Report – Presented by Facebook – Don’t expect a government check anytime soonMORE (D-Mass.) during the debate over then-Sen. Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsTrump’s policies on refugees are as simple as ABCsOcasio-Cortez, Velázquez call for convention to decide Puerto Rico statusWhite House officials voted by show of hands on 2018 family separations: reportMOREs (R-Ala.) nomination to be Trumps attorney general in 2017.
Wyden and Schumer went forward with trying to pass their resolution, which was blocked by Johnson. But the GOP senator said he decided against trying to pass his own resolution aimed at Democrats, though he still spoke from the floor to fire back at their accusations.
I saw their resolution so I was going to enter my own, he said. When I came on the floor, I was basically warned we are concerned about whats going to happen here on the floor we were all warned.
Grassley also said he believed Democrats going forward with their resolution was a violation of Senate rules.
The tensions over Johnson and Grassleys probe come as Intelligence community officials, including FBI Director Christopher Wray, have warned that Russia is actively working to try to denigrate 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 Biden.
Democrats are worried Johnsons report will include similar accusations about Biden as those being spread by Derkach, who 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.
There have been bipartisan concerns about the reliability of information coming out of Ukraine. Johnson had separately been prepared to subpoena former Blue Star Strategies consultant Andrii Telizhenko earlier this year, but reversed course after a closed-door FBI briefing and instead subpoenaed Blue Star Strategies directly.
Johnson and Grassley have also gotten documents from the Treasury and State Departments, as well as the National Archives.
And theyve spoken with several current and former officials including deputy assistant secretary of State George Kent, who was deposed by House committees last year, and former Special Envoy for International Energy Amos Hochstein, who met with committee staff last week. Johnson said both Bridget Brink, the U.S. ambassador to Slovakia, and Geoffrey Ross Pyatt, the current ambassador to Greece and former ambassador to Ukraine, are scheduled to meet with committee staff.
Democratic committee staff have been taking part in the interviews and Wyden and Sen. Gary PetersGary Charles PetersBiden promises Democratic senators help in battleground statesPostal service changes delayed 7 percent of nation’s first-class mail: Democratic reportGOP votes to authorize subpoenas, depositions in Obama-era probeMORE (D-Mich.) are planning to release a dueling report to challenge the GOP findings.
Wyden offered a prebuttal of the GOP report, noting that while he wont publicly disclose classified information he has not seen any indication of wrongdoing by the former vice president either as part of the closed-door depositions or in his role as a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee. 
Chairman Johnson has repeatedly claimed in the media that he has uncovered new and damaging information about Vice President Biden’s activity in Ukraine, Wyden said. This is simply not true. Nothing I have seen–not one bit of evidence–could lead to the conclusion that Vice President Biden did anything wrong in Ukraine.
Peters who has called the probe a fishing expedition designed to influence the presidential election is signaling concerns that Johnson and Grassley could try to cherry-pick facts to paint a negative picture of the former vice president that would be used by the president and his allies to fuel a narrative in the final weeks of the election.
As part of a meeting in the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, Peters and Johnson struck a deal to release the transcripts from the closed-door depositions simultaneously as the GOP report is released.
Those will all be released at the same time, Peters said of the transcripts. So youll have it, and youll be able to look at what people actually said. …And see for yourself and see whether or not what is in report actually jives with what youre reading.