On Tuesday, Sens. Ron Johnson (R-WI) and Charles Grassley (R-IA) fired off a blistering letter to the Democratic Ranking Members of the House Committee on Finance and House Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs in which they accuse Democrats of conducting a “disinformation campaign” in order to hinder their investigation into the possibility of the Biden family having conflicts of interest.
Grassley and Johnson announced a review in February of “potential conflicts of interest posed by the business activities of Hunter Biden and his associates during the Obama administration, particularly with respect to his business activities in Ukraine and China.”
The senators’ letter, sent Tuesday to Sens. Gary Peters (D-MI) and Ron Wyden (D-OR), begins by asserting that a July 16 letter asking once more for a member briefing from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and relevant members of the Intelligence Community (IC) flew in the face of the FBI advising “all of us during a March 2020 staff briefing that there was nothing to preclude the continuation of our investigation.” Johnson and Grassley note that the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee had heard months ago that the FBI and intelligence agencies “did not have any additional information to provide.”
Grassley and Johnson then point out that Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) also wrote a letter asking for an FBI briefing; Grassley and Johnson assert that news reports regarding the classified part of that letter indicated that it falsely accused the GOP senators of obtaining information from foreign nationals about former Vice President Joe Biden.
Johnson and Grassley write:
Not only is that an apparent classified leak, but that allegation is false and you know it because we told you it was false right after those reports were published. Yet, as with your repeated public requests for a member briefing that seem designed to suggest that we are somehow denying members access to briefings and relevant intelligence, Democrats and Mr. Biden’s campaign prefer to knowingly repeat false information so the liberal media will keep reporting on it. Continuing to repeat false information, including apparently classified information, will not make the allegations true. In fact, it is the very definition of a disinformation campaign—the same conduct you are falsely accusing us of participating in.
Biden’s camp has been assiduously attacking Johnson. “Biden campaign spokesman Andrew Bates said Wednesday that Johnson is ‘not only diverting’ the committee from oversight … ‘but he has also revealed his complicity in a foreign attack on the very sovereignty of our elections,’” NBC News reported in mid-July.
The two GOP senators state that “during the Senate Judiciary Committee’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and its focus on the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting, Democrats never once asked for briefings before interviewing Russian nationals, some of whom were allegedly linked to Russian Intelligence Services.”
“In contrast to that investigation, our investigation is focused on records from the State Department, National Archives, Department of Justice, other federal agencies, and the U.S. consulting firm Blue Star Strategies, as well as speaking with current and former U.S. government officials,” the senators write. “How, exactly, could this be foreign or Russian disinformation? If it is, that means that the Obama administration peddled it regularly.”
They then cite the role of the infamous Steele dossier, which relied in part on Russian sources, in the investigation of the Trump campaign:
Your misguided efforts that actually assist Russian disinformation were further confirmed when our investigative work recently revealed now-declassified intelligence reporting that parts of the Steele dossier—foreign opposition research paid for by the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton campaign, and used during and after the 2016 election—were ‘part of a Russian disinformation campaign.’ We are not aware that you or any of your colleagues have commented publicly on this disturbing revelation. Where is your outrage regarding actual Russian disinformation contained in the Steele Dossier and Russian disinformation paid for by the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton campaign? The Steele Dossier is the very definition of election interference, yet we hear no objections from you.
“Finally, we want to reiterate that we have taken every precaution to protect the integrity of our investigation and keep your staffs involved in our work,” Johnson and Grassley conclude. “Yet at every turn, we have seen leaks of sensitive information and attempts to smear and undermine our investigation—and us, personally—in the press. These attempts to discredit our investigation only serve to increase our curiosity: what are the Democrats and many in the media so afraid of us finding?”