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Joe Biden with his son, Hunter
Image: Reuters/J. Ernst
Politics

Senate report on Joe Biden's son finds conflict of interest

John Silk
September 23, 2020

Two Republican senators have described Hunter Biden's board role as "problematic" and "awkward." His father's presidential campaign dismissed the report as an effort to damage Democrats.

https://p.dw.com/p/3iuTb

Two Republican-led Senate committees released a report Wednesday claiming that Hunter Biden's board position with a Ukrainian energy company was "awkward," "problematic" and interfered with "efficient execution of policy" for the office of former US President Barack Obama.

The report did not demonstrate, however, that it altered the Obama administration's policy towards Ukraine.

Furthermore, the committees offered no evidence to back up one of President Donald Trump's more incendiary allegations, that Joe Biden pressured Ukraine to dismiss its top prosecutor, Viktor Shokin, as a way of protecting the presidential hopeful's son.

The publication took place close to the home stretch of the presidential campaign, ahead of November's nationwide vote. The first debate between Biden and Trump is set to take place in less than a week.

'Awkward' and 'problematic'

The GOP report focuses on Hunter Biden's business affairs in Ukraine, where he was on the board of gas firm Burisma, and says that his dealings posed a conflict of interest because his father was vice president at the time and was involved with Kyiv policy.

The report, co-authored by Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Ron Johnson and Senate Finance Committee Chairman Charles E. Grassley, examines a 2016 email from George Kent, the former acting deputy chief of mission at the Kyiv embassy, that described Hunter Biden's paid role at Burisma as "very awkward for all US officials pushing an anti-corruption agenda in Ukraine."

The communication alleges that "Hunter Biden's position was problematic and did interfere in the efficient execution of policy with respect to Ukraine," also saying that the former vice president and his relatives "cashed in on Joe Biden’s vice presidency."

Biden's team dismiss smear efforts

But Biden's campaign dismissed the report, suggesting it was an effort by allies of Trump to smear his election opponent.

In a statement issued before its release, with excerpts published in The Washington Post, Biden campaign spokesman Andrew Bates said Senator Johnson was trying "to subsidize a foreign attack against the sovereignty of our elections with taxpayer dollars — an attack founded on a long-disproven, hardcore right-wing conspiracy theory that hinges on Senator Johnson himself being corrupt and that the senator has now explicitly stated he is attempting to exploit to bail out Donald Trump's reelection campaign."

Trump has repeatedly spoken of Hunter Biden's work in Ukraine and in 2019, he and his personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, claimed that Joe Biden had actually sought the dismissal of Ukraine's top prosecutor, Viktor Shokin in order to protect his son. There is no evidence to support this allegation and it was the official policy of the United States and the European Union to seek the ousting of Shokin.

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