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Sen. Johnson releases findings of Hunter Biden probe alleging conflict of interest

The GOP-led probe found Hunter Biden's position on an energy company to be "awkward" for U.S. officials but found no evidence that it affected policy.
Image: Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI) at Senate committee hearing in Washington.
Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, which investigated Hunter Biden's position on the board of a Ukrainian gas company during the Obama administration. Toni Sandys / Reuters

WASHINGTON — Senate Homeland Security Committee Chairman Ron Johnson on Wednesday released the findings of a GOP-led probe into Hunter Biden's role with a Ukrainian energy company while his father, Joe Biden, was vice president — an effort Johnson, a Wisconsin Republican, has repeatedly said hopes will affect the November election.

The “conflicts of interest” report concludes that U.S. officials found Hunter Biden’s role on the board of a Ukrainian energy company, Burisma, to be “very awkward” for those in the Obama administration who were at the time pushing an anti-corruption agenda in Ukraine and that Hunter Biden received millions of dollars from sitting on the board of the company.

The report, though, provides no evidence that Hunter Biden’s position affected U.S. policy.

Biden campaign spokesperson Andrew Bates called the report “an attack founded on a long-disproven, hardcore rightwing conspiracy theory" that Johnson "has now explicitly stated he is attempting to exploit to bail out Donald Trump's re-election campaign."

The release of the long-running probe comes less than a week before the first presidential debate between President Donald Trump and Biden, next Tuesday, Sept. 29.

In an interview with a Wisconsin radio show on Tuesday night, Johnson said he was “hoping” the results of his taxpayer-funded investigation would cause voters to take a closer look at Biden. “People need to take a look at this report very carefully and understand what the ramifications are for electing Joe Biden as president,” Johnson said.

Trump and his Republican allies, including Johnson, have argued that U.S. policy toward Ukraine under President Barack Obama may have been colored by Biden's desire to protect Burisma — specifically, by advocating for the dismissal of a Ukrainian prosecutor with ties to the Kremlin who had investigated the company.

Hunter was a member of the Burisma board part of the time that Biden served as the administration's point person on Ukraine, but he was not associated with Burisma during the prosecutor's probe.

Democrats say the investigation is purely political and Johnson has admitted as much on several recent occasions. On Aug. 13, Johnson said the probe will “certainly help Donald Trump win re-election and certainly be pretty good, I would say, evidence about not voting for Vice President Biden.” And the next day, Johnson said, “We’ve got to speed it up because we got an election coming, and people have a right to know before they cast their ballot.”

Last week, NBC News reported that Amos Hochstein, the only person known to have directly discussed Burisma with Joe Biden in 2015, was prepared to testify that he never changed U.S. policy because of Burisma and was never asked to do so and that Burisma never factored into any policy decisions around energy or Biden's advocacy for a new Ukrainian prosecutor general — and that he has told colleagues that the Obama administration sought to punish Burisma rather than protect it.

The report, however, highlights Hochstein's testimony that he did raise concerns directly with Biden about the perception of a conflict of interest. Democrats now say they want Hochstein’s full transcript, as well as the transcripts of other witnesses, publicly released.

Other findings listed in the report include that, in addition to collecting millions from his role on Burisma’s board, Hunter Biden received other payments from foreign nationals, including a $3.5 million wire transfer from Elena Baturina, the wife of the former mayor of Moscow, and had business with Chinese nationals.