The U.S. Treasury Department was asked by two Republican senators about any possible reports of money laundering or fraud in the business dealings of former Vice President Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, with a Ukraine energy firm long accused of corruption.
Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, and Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), the chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, sent a letter to Ken Blanco, the director of the Treasury Department’s financial crimes division. The letter (pdf) is seeking “suspicious activity reports,” which are documents that financial institutions file with the Treasury Department when there are suspected cases of fraud or money laundering.
The letter, dated Nov. 15, didn’t note if there were any cases relating to Biden.
Republicans sent the letter amid an impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump. Democrats have alleged Trump abused his oath of office by “pressuring” Ukraine to investigate the Bidens, Burisma, and alleged interference in the 2016 election in exchange for military aid, an allegation denied by the White House and Ukrainian officials. Hunter Biden had served on the board of Burisma while his father was vice president and who was considered the Obama administration’s “point man” in Kyiv. Hunter Biden, in recent weeks, denied being involved in any corruption and resigned from his position earlier this year.
The senators noted that Burisma was paying Hunter Biden as much as $50,000 per month as their committees investigate “potentially improper actions by the Obama administration with respect to Burisma Holdings and Ukraine.”
Johnson and Grassley, citing a report, said Burisma’s consulting company, Blue Star Strategies, used Biden’s board membership to access Obama administration officials at the U.S. Department of State.
The move comes as Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) wrote to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to obtain documents related to 2016 contacts between the Bidens and other Obama administration officials as well as former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko.
Joe Biden on Friday criticized Graham’s letter to Pompeo, saying the longtime senator will “regret” it.
“Lindsey, I just—I’m just embarrassed by what you’re doing, for you. I mean, my Lord,” Biden, a Democratic presidential candidate, told CNN. “Lindsey is about to go down in a way that I think he’s going to regret his whole life,” he said.
“I am disappointed, and quite frankly I’m angered, by the fact—he knows me; he knows my son; he knows there’s nothing to this. Trump is now essentially holding power over him that even the Ukrainians wouldn’t yield to,” the former vice president said. “The Ukrainians would not yield to, quote, ‘investigate Biden’—there’s nothing to investigate about Biden or his son.”
Biden fueled speculation when he bragged last year in a video that he threatened in 2016 to withhold $1 billion from Ukraine unless then-President Petro Poroshenko ousted Viktor Shokin, the country’s top anti-corruption prosecutor who was probing Burisma. Shokin also has been accused by the Obama administration and Ukrainian officials of corruption himself.