Peters, Wyden Respond to Republican Effort to Amplify Russian Disinformation & Manufacture Dirt on Vice President Biden

Findings Show Republican Investigation Amplifies Known Russian Attack on U.S. Election & Allegations that U.S. Policy Toward Ukraine Changed to Benefit Burisma are False

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Gary Peters (D-MI), Ranking Member of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, and Ron Wyden (D-OR), Ranking Member of the Finance Committee, released their response to Senate Republicans’ failed effort to manufacture dirt on Vice President Joe Biden and boost President Donald Trump’s campaign. The faulty investigation pursued by Chairmen Ron Johnson and Chuck Grassley is rooted in a known Russian disinformation effort intended to spur investigations into false allegations of corruption, which has been confirmed by both the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the U.S. Treasury Department.

“Chairman Johnson’s investigation has divided our Committee at a time when our constituents are counting on us to work together. More than 200,000 Americans have died from Coronavirus and tens of millions more are struggling, and yet the Chairman has diverted our Committee’s time and taxpayer resources away from our mission to protect the health and security of Americans – and instead has generated a partisan, political report that is rooted in Russian disinformation and intended to influence the presidential election,” said Senator Peters. “Worst of all – the Chairmen have amplified a known Russian attack on our election, and have used the credibility of the United States Senate to advance these discredited narratives, despite warnings from the Intelligence Community, the national security experts they interviewed over the course of their investigation, and Trump Administration officials. It is unconscionable that the Chairmen are continuing to advance false information intended to undermine our democratic process at the expense of the bipartisan work we should be doing to protect our national security.”

“More than 200,000 Americans are dead and more than 25 million are out of work as a result of Donald Trump’s incompetence. Donald Trump can’t run on his unprecedented failures, so the Trump administration and Senate Republicans tried—and failed—to manufacture dirt on Vice President Biden. Vice President Biden did nothing wrong, and policy toward Ukraine did not change while Hunter Biden was on the board of Burisma.” said Senator Wyden. “This sham investigation was an attempted political hit job facilitated by the State Department, and rooted in the disinformation pushed by a pro-Russia operative and Russian asset who is under U.S. sanction. Throughout this effort I have been deeply disturbed by Senate Republicans’ willingness to disregard national security concerns and push Russian disinformation. The Senate must never again be abused in this way.” 

READ THE FULL REPORT: “Election Interference: Majority Investigation Amplifies Russian Attack on 2020 Election.”

READ THE EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

Key findings in Democrats’ report include:

The Chairmen’s Investigation is an Outcome of a Russian Disinformation Campaign:

The Russian government has waged a disinformation campaign against former Vice President Biden. This campaign was underway by 2015 in response to his anti-corruption efforts in Ukraine, and it gained renewed fervor because of his candidacy in the 2020 presidential election. The Chairmen’s investigation is the unfortunate result of Russian attempts to influence the 2020 presidential election and benefit President Trump’s reelection by denigrating Vice President Biden and manipulating U.S. political institutions to aid in efforts to weaken U.S. democracy and national security. 

No Wrongdoing by Vice President Biden:

The Chairmen’s investigation, which includes more than 50 hours of transcribed interviews of 10 witnesses and the review of thousands of pages of documents from federal agencies, debunks the allegation that Hunter Biden’s position on the board of Burisma created a conflict of interest that impacted United States foreign policy. In fact, the investigation has uncovered comprehensive evidence to the contrary. All first-hand witnesses testified that Hunter Biden’s position of the board of Burisma had no impact whatsoever on United States foreign policy.

The Chairmen’s Claims Mirror the Claims of U.S.-Sanctioned Kremlin Agent Andrii Derkach:

The U.S. Treasury Department recently sanctioned “active Russian agent” Andrii Derkach for his role in efforts to interfere in the 2020 presidential election, “exposing Russian malign influence campaigns and protecting our upcoming elections from foreign interference.” The primary sources cited by the Chairmen to support their allegations have extensively promoted Derkach’s claims and are closely tied to Derkach collaborator and President Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani. 

Chairman Johnson Repeatedly Stated the Investigation’s Purpose of Interfering in the 2020 Presidential Election:

Chairman Johnson continues to explicitly, publicly state the purpose of this investigation is to “help Donald Trump win reelection” and provide “evidence about not voting for Vice President Biden.”  The Office of the Director of National Intelligence recently assessed Russia’s election interference goals as one and the same—“to undermine former Vice President Biden’s candidacy” and “to boost President Trump’s candidacy.”

 - Allegation that U.S.-Ukraine Policy was Altered to Assist Hunter Biden is False:

State Department communications and detailed, lengthy interviews with former and current officials clearly demonstrate that U.S. policy during the Obama Administration was not influenced in any manner to assist Burisma or Hunter Biden. Vice President Biden did not alter U.S. policies toward Ukraine in any way to benefit Burisma or his son. To the contrary, all the evidence shows the normal interagency policy process was driven solely by the national interest. U.S. policy to call for the removal of Prosecutor General Shokin was contrary to Burisma’s interest

No Evidence Vice President Biden Tried to Halt a Corruption Investigation:

Vice President Joe Biden’s public condemnation of Ukraine’s Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin and advocacy for Shokin’s dismissal, was a U.S foreign policy priority and was not, as the Majority alleges, an attempt to halt a corruption investigation into Burisma’s owner. State Department officials interviewed in this investigation explained that Shokin did not pursue corruption investigations against Burisma’s owner, effectively shielding the owner from prosecution, and that removing Shokin made an investigation into Burisma more, not less, likely.  The Senate Ukraine Caucus, including Chairman Johnson himself, supported the United States policy advocating for the removal of Prosecutor General Shokin.

No Evidence Any Official U.S. Government Action Favored Burisma:

There is no evidence that any action of the U.S. government or any U.S. official was taken to benefit Burisma or Hunter Biden. On the contrary, and testimony obtained by the Committees indicate persistent, negative views of Burisma among key officials.

###