It Appears Republican Probe Of Hunter Biden Is Heating Up

Feb 18, 2020
Originally published on February 18, 2020 7:03 am
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Senate Republicans gave the Secret Service a deadline of this week to provide travel records for Hunter Biden. There's no evidence of misconduct by Biden or his dad, former Vice President Joe Biden, but GOP senators are not willing to let this issue go, even though the impeachment trial is over. Here's NPR's Tim Mak.

TIM MAK, BYLINE: Republican Senators Ron Johnson and Chuck Grassley, the chairs of the Senate Homeland Security and Finance Committees, have been leading a months-long probe into the Bidens. And it only appears to be heating up. Here's Johnson telling NPR what they are looking for.

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RON JOHNSON: Well, potentially, misuse of agencies, possible corruption, how that affected - whether Hunter's involvement affected the Obama administration's decisions related to Ukraine. Again, I've got a lot of unanswered questions.

MAK: They have made sweeping requests for documents from the State Department, the Treasury Department, the FBI, the Secret Service and the National Archives. Johnson explains why he thinks the investigations are warranted.

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JOHNSON: I think the American people have the right to know. If there's wrongdoing, if there's evidence of corruption, they need to know that. If there is no wrongdoing, we also need to know that as well.

MAK: The Treasury Department has handed over sensitive financial records about Hunter Biden to Senate Republicans, even as the Trump administration fights House Democrats on a variety of other oversight requests. Senator Ron Wyden, the top Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee, pointed to the swift production of documents by the Trump administration to Republicans as evidence that the investigation is not serious.

RON WYDEN: Nothing could illustrate the political nature of this trumped-up matter better than that.

MAK: Not all Trump allies are willing to pursue additional probes of the Bidens, however. Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, a strong supporter of the president's, launched an investigation into the Biden's back in November 2019, during the House impeachment inquiry. But he now seems unwilling to pursue that, wary that the issue has been polluted by Russian disinformation. Here he is talking to CBS' Margaret Brennan.

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MARGARET BRENNAN: Are you saying you don't want any part of this anymore?

LINDSEY GRAHAM: After talking to the attorney general and the intelligence chairman that any documents coming out of the Ukraine against any American, Republican or Democrat, need to be looked at by the intelligence services who has expertise, I don't because Russia is playing us all like a fiddle.

MAK: Meanwhile, House Democratic leadership seems almost timid after an exhausting impeachment process. Following the Senate's refusal to subpoena former national security adviser John Bolton, there was a question of whether the House might do it after the trial. Asked about new investigations, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi appears to be throwing cold water on the issue, emphasizing the House's focus on kitchen table issues.

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NANCY PELOSI: Our priorities are to do our job for the American people, to lower health care costs by lowering the cost of prescription drugs. We passed that bill. We hope that - we worked with the administration to put it together. We hope they don't abandon it, as they seem to have.

MAK: Polling may provide some insight into the speaker's strategy. A recent Monmouth poll shows that there's a sense of investigations fatigue. Fifty-two percent of Americans want all impeachment investigations to end. So while there is still appetite in the Senate for Ukraine-related investigations, House Democrats may steer clear and focus on legislating ahead of the fall elections.

Tim Mak, NPR News, Washington.

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