Democrats Say Russia Funneling Anti-Biden Info Through GOP Senator's Committee

Democrats notified the FBI over their concerns Russia is "laundering" intelligence directed against former Vice President Joe Biden through a GOP senate-led committee.

Top congressional Democrats on Monday publicly released a letter they sent earlier this month to FBI Director Christopher Wray which suggested Russia is funneling information through a committee led by Wisconsin Republican Senator Ron Johnson. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, New York Senator Chuck Schumer and House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff warned the FBI that Johnson's ongoing investigation into Joe and Hunter Biden's alleged Ukraine ties is being used by Russia as a means of once again interfering in the upcoming U.S. presidential election.

A spokesman with the Biden campaign described Johnson's ongoing Biden-Ukraine probe as "a political errand for Donald Trump" ahead of the November 3 elections this year.

The July 13 letter to the FBI included a classified addendum which relayed concerns that a Russian-backed smear campaign against Biden is being funneled through Johnson's GOP-led Senate probe into Burisma and a Democratic public relations firm, Blue Star Strategies, Politico reported.

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"We are gravely concerned, in particular, that Congress appears to be the target of a concerted foreign interference campaign, which seeks to launder and amplify disinformation in order to influence congressional activity, public debate, and the presidential election in November," reads the Democrats' letter to the FBI, which was partially unclassified Monday.

"Given the seriousness and specificity of these threats…we believe it is imperative that the FBI provide a classified defensive briefing to all Members of Congress and that the briefing draw on all-source intelligence information and analysis, consistent with due regard for the protection of sensitive intelligence sources and methods," the letter continued.

Johnson, chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, is reportedly expected to issue subpoenas for current and former Biden advisers who they believe have information on Biden's connection to the Ukraine gas company Burisma. As Politico reported last week, Johnson's ongoing investigation into the Biden's alleged Ukraine ties is still seeking voluntary witness depositions, but discussions with Biden advisers recently broke down.

A Johnson spokesman on Monday said the committee is "not commenting on our ongoing discussions with witnesses." Newsweek also reached out to Johnson's office for additional reactions to the Democrats' FBI letter.

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The Republican-led probe into the Bidens centers on allegations the Democratic public relations firm, Blue Star, leveraged Hunter Biden's role on the board of Burisma in order to influence the State Department during the Obama administration. Trump, Johnson and several Republican allies, including attorney Rudy Giuliani, have all previously met with Ukrainian and Russian government officials. In 2018, after Johnson and a GOP-only group of U.S. lawmakers visited Moscow, the senator said allegations Russia meddled in the 2016 presidential election on behalf of Trump were "blown way out of proportion."

Instead, Johnson and the Republican senators began probing the Biden and Obama administration ties to Burisma.

The Republican probe centers on claims that a Democratic public-relations firm sought to leverage Hunter Biden's role on the board of a Ukrainian energy company, Burisma, to influence the State Department under the Obama administration. Johnson has asked several former State Department officials to testify, and he is eyeing subpoenas as soon as this week if they do not agree to appear for depositions voluntarily.

Not every Republican senator is on board with the ongoing investigation into the Bidens. South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham in February warned that any damning information from Ukraine must be vetted by U.S. intelligence agencies because "Russia is playing us all like a fiddle." In December 2019, Graham said he is "1,000 percent confident" Russia—and not Ukraine—meddled into the 2016 presidential election.

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Top congressional Democrats on Monday publicly released a letter they sent earlier this month to FBI Director Christopher Wray which suggested Russia is funneling information through a committee led by Wisconsin Republican Senator Ron Johnson, seen here with President Donald Trump. SAUL LOEB / Contributor/Getty Images
Democrats Say Russia Funneling Anti-Biden Info Through GOP Senator's Committee | Politics