BY PETR SVAB
The Republican chairs of two Senate committees have asked the Justice Department (DOJ) if it has received or has been offered documents from the government of Ukraine that reportedly conflict with the narrative presented by former Vice President Joe Biden regarding his pressuring Ukraine to fire a prosecutor probing a firm that was paying his son.
Biden has maintained that his threat in 2016 to cancel $1 billion in U.S. loan guarantees unless the prosecutor was fired had nothing to do with the investigation into Ukrainian energy company Burisma, which was paying Hunter Biden as a board member.
According to a Sept. 26 column by investigative journalist John Solomon, Kyiv had been unsuccessfully trying to get to the DOJ “hundreds of pages of never-released memos and documents … [that] conflict with Biden’s narrative.”
Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) requested information about the documents (pdf) in a Sept. 27 letter to Attorney General William Barr.
“Has the Justice Department obtained or been offered documents from Ukrainian officials related to these matters?” they asked. “If so, what were those documents?”
They also requested a response to two previous questions regarding “links and coordination between the Ukrainian government and individuals associated with the campaign of Hillary Clinton or the Democratic National Committee.”
“Ukrainian efforts, abetted by a U.S. political party, to interfere in the 2016 election should not be ignored,” the letter states. “Such allegations of corruption deserve due scrutiny, and the American people have a right to know when foreign forces attempt to undermine our democratic processes.”
Grassley has been looking into some Democrats’ involvement with Ukraine for more than two years.
On July 24, 2017, he sent a letter to then-Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein regarding Alexandra Chalupa, a former Democratic National Committee (DNC) consultant who was, according to a Ukrainian embassy official, working in 2016 with Ukrainian officials to collect information that could connect then-candidate Donald Trump to Russia.
The embassy confirmed Chalupa sought information about Paul Manafort, who worked on the Trump campaign for several months in 2016. The embassy denied providing any information and Chalupa denied getting any, but in 2018, a Ukrainian court ruled that the country’s National Anti-Corruption Bureau and Ukrainian lawmaker Serhiy Leshchenko illegally released documents related to Manafort and interfered in the 2016 U.S. election.
Reports on the documents, detailing years-old payments from the party of pro-Russian former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, prompted Trump to fire Manafort.
Nellie Ohr, the wife of Justice Department official Bruce Ohr, told congressional investigators that Leschenko also served as a source for Fusion GPS, the firm paid by the Clinton campaign and the DNC to produce the Steele dossier, a collection of unsubstantiated allegations of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia to influence the 2016 election.
Chalupa’s actions “appear to show that she was simultaneously working on behalf of a foreign government, Ukraine, and on behalf of the DNC and Clinton campaign, in an effort to influence not only the U.S. voting population, but U.S. government officials,” Grassley said.
He asked why the DOJ hadn’t required Chalupa to register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act and also asked whether the DOJ was probing Clinton–Ukraine or DNC–Ukraine links or cooperation.
The Sept. 27 Grassley-Johnson letter suggests the DOJ hasn’t yet provided a response to the original questions. The letter does acknowledge that, as per the DOJ, U.S. Attorney John Durham is “exploring the extent to which … Ukraine, played a role in the counterintelligence investigation” directed at the Trump campaign.
The letter requests a response by Oct. 14.
“We anticipate that your written reply and most responsive documents will be unclassified,” it states.
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