Sens. Johnson, Grassley Ask State Department for Hunter Biden Documents

November 7, 2019 Updated: November 8, 2019

Sens. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) are asking the U.S. Department of State for documents pursuant to Hunter Biden, the son of former Vice President Joe Biden.

In a letter sent on Wednesday to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (pdf), the two senators quested the agency to disclose any internal information about Hunter Biden and his Ukrainian company Burisma Holdings, of which he served on the board.

“E-mails recently obtained and made public through a FOIA request indicate that Burisma’s consulting firm used Hunter Biden’s role on Burisma’s board to gain access and potentially influence matters at the State Department,” the two senators said.

The State Department should provide more information about how the Obama administration took steps to “ensure that policy decisions relating to Ukraine and Burisma were not improperly influenced by the employment and financial interests of family members,” according to their letter.

“It is unclear the extent to which State Department officials expressed these concerns formally and what, if any, action the Department took to address them,” the letter said. They also asked in the letter for documents “to better understand what actions, if any, the Obama administration took.”

Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI) speaks with reporters ahead of today's vote on the health care bill on Capitol Hill in Washington
Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI) speaks with reporters ahead of today’s vote on the health care bill on Capitol Hill in Washington, on July 25, 2017. (Aaron P. Bernstein/Reuters)

They noted that Hunter Biden and his associate, Devon Archer, started serving on the Burisma board at around 2014, which is when Joe Biden became the Obama administration’s “public face of the administration’s” Ukraine dealings. They cited a report from investigative journalist John Solomon, who said that their colleague Christopher Heinz, the stepson to former Secretary of State John Kerry, warned them.

Three alleged meetings in 2015 and 2016 are what the two senators are interested in, according to their letter, citing email records. In 2015, Hunter Biden apparently wanted to meet with former Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken for “advice on a couple of things.” He also attempted to have a lunch meeting with him several months later.

Another email revealed a scheduled meeting between former undersecretary Catherine Novelli and Karen Tramontano, a former Clinton administration official and co-founder of Blue Star Strategies, which is a lobbying company hired by Burisma. Tramontano mentioned Biden in the email to get a meeting with Novelli about Burisma, according to the letter.

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) on Capitol Hill
Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) on Capitol Hill on June 11, 2019. (Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

Archer also planned to meet Kerry a day after the Novelli-Tramontano meeting, according to another email detailed by the two senators’ letter.

Grassley, the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, and Johnson, chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, are now asking for all records relating to the three meetings, including State Department records related to Hunter Biden, Tramontano, Archer, and Heinz. The information should be provided by Nov. 20, they said.

The request comes as Democrats are leading an impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump because he asked Ukraine’s current president, Volodymyr Zelensky, in a phone call to look into investigating the Biden-Burisma dealings.

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