WASHINGTON — A senior Democratic senator is asking the State Department to turn over a wide range of documents about US policy toward Ukraine in response to Republican requests for records that largely focused on former vice president Joe Biden and his son, Hunter Biden.
On Tuesday, Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden, the ranking member on the Senate Finance Committee, sent a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo demanding documents on Ukraine from both the Obama and Trump administrations, as well as any records on a slew of people connected to Ukraine, according to a copy provided by Wyden’s office. Those people include Rudy Giuliani, President Donald Trump’s personal attorney who ran the Ukrainian back-channel campaign at the heart of Trump’s impeachment, and Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, the Soviet-born business partners who worked with Giuliani in that effort.
The letter follows two November requests by the Republican chairs of the Senate Finance, Homeland Security, and Judiciary committees to the State Department for records related to the Bidens — specifically, documents on Hunter Biden and the Ukrainian gas company for which he worked while his father was vice president and leading America’s policy toward Ukraine. The senators — Sens. Chuck Grassley, Ron Johnson, and Lindsey Graham — are months into a broad investigation into whether Biden, who is vying for the Democratic presidential nomination, misused his position to help his son, though no evidence has emerged to support the theory.
“As the ranking Democratic member of the Senate Finance Committee, I am concerned that, in the absence of additional information concerning similar activities during the Trump Administration, the Department's production of information requested by the Senate Committees could create an incomplete and biased record of the State Department's activities related to Ukraine,” Wyden wrote.
The committees are expecting around 1,000 pages of documents from the State Department, BuzzFeed News first reported on Thursday. Wyden’s letter said Republican staff members “have represented that they expect a voluminous production of records from the State Department in the coming days.”
Grassley's office said Tuesday it was less confident that it would receive the documents in short order, however. "I hope Sen. Wyden is correct that the State Department is able to produce voluminous documents 'in the coming days', but we’ve unfortunately not received any firm confirmation from the State Department that records will be produced that soon," Taylor Foy, a spokesperson for Grassley, told BuzzFeed News.
The Biden investigation has been a source of public tension between Democrats and Republicans since last week, when Wyden's office accused the GOP senators of "turning the Senate into an arm of the president’s political campaign" and Grassley's office responded by accusing Democrats of leaking information about the probe.
"Government oversight is the responsibility of every member of Congress, so Sen. Wyden is well within his right to ask questions as he sees fit," Foy of Wyden's letter. "Chairman Grassley won’t interfere with his oversight and we hope that courtesy is returned going forward."
In addition to records on individuals connected to the Ukraine saga, Wyden's letter asked for documents “related to support by Congress and the international community for the removal of” Viktor Shokin, Ukraine’s former top prosecutor who was fired in 2016 after a pressure campaign by the West, including Biden, who was dissatisfied with Shokin’s ability to root out corruption.
Moreover, Wyden requested “any State Department records relating to or referencing Hunter Biden's activities in China, including, in particular, any records generated as part of on-going trade negotiations with China.” Wyden cited comments Trump made in October encouraging China to investigate the Bidens.
Wyden’s letter also made clear that he wants records that are responsive to the Republicans’ requests even if they date to the Trump administration. “The requests made in the Senate Committees' original letter are not restricted by date and a complete response therefore should include records created during the current administration,” Wyden wrote. “However, for the avoidance of doubt, I am specifically requesting any records relevant to the individuals and companies identified in the Senate Committees' requests generated after January 20, 2017.”
Spokespeople for Johnson and the State Department did not return a request for comment.
This story has been updated with comment from Sen. Grassley's office.