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Senator Chris Murphy requests investigation into agencies' cooperation on Biden, Trump probes

Russians hacked Ukrainian firm linked to impeachment

Washington — Democratic Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut has demanded answers from the internal watchdogs at three federal departments and the National Archives about their cooperation with congressional investigations into Hunter Biden, former Vice President Joe Biden's son.

In a letter to the inspectors general of the National Archives and departments of State, Treasury and Homeland Security, Murphy requested an investigation how their agencies responded to congressional demands for information during the impeachment inquiry, compared to how they responded to requests about Hunter Biden and his work for the Ukrainian energy company Burisma.

Murphy wrote that he is "deeply concerned" that the agencies "may not be applying a consistent test regarding inquiries made by Congress, choosing to comply with requests that are designed to damage the president's political opponents, but refusing to comply with requests into the activities of the president." 

"I am troubled that President Trump may be weaponizing the executive branch in advance of the 2020 elections by directing agencies to comply with congressional investigations designed to hurt his political opponents," Murphy wrote. He said such a "double standard threatens to make these agencies agents of the president's political campaign," and asked the inspectors general to reply by March 23.

In a now-infamous phone call in 2019, Mr. Trump urged Ukraine's president to investigate Hunter Biden's business dealings, a demand that eventually formed the basis for his impeachment. Mr. Trump was acquitted by the Senate last month.

Hunter Biden served on the board of Burisma, the Ukrainian company, for several years while his father was vice president. Republicans have argued that he used his father's office to enrich himself, while Democrats accuse the president and his Republican allies of pursuing investigations for the sole purpose of damaging Joe Biden politically.

Republican Senator Ron Johnson, the chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, has moved forward with his committee's investigation into Hunter Biden in the weeks since Mr. Trump's acquittal.

Johnson told committee members in a letter last week that he planned to seek a subpoena for Andrii Telizhenko, a former Ukrainian diplomat and ex-consultant at a firm that dealt with Burisma. A vote on the subpoena is set for Wednesday.

Telizhenko is a prominent proponent of the unfounded conspiracy theory that Ukraine, not Russia, was responsible for interfering in the U.S. elections in 2016. U.S. officials and Democratic lawmakers have said that theory is Russian propaganda meant to divert attention from Moscow and toward Kyiv. U.S intelligence agencies issued an assessment in 2017 detailing Russia's activities and intentions in the 2016 presidential election. 

Democratic Senator Gary Peters, the committee's ranking member, has raised concerns that the investigation could further Russian objectives to disrupt U.S. political processes.

"We need to take every step to ensure the credibility and resources of the U.S. Senate are not used to advance interference efforts by foreign adversaries that seek to undermine our democracy or put our national security at risk," Peters said last week.

In a letter earlier this week, Johnson told Peters he had consulted the FBI about the risk of amplifying potential Russian disinformation and was committed to conducting the investigation "methodically, responsibly, and largely out of public view."

At least two other Senate committees — Judiciary and Finance — are pursuing their own investigation into Ukraine and Democrats, including allegations regarding Burisma and the Bidens.

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