May 5, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Obama slams GOP request for Biden-Ukraine records as aiding "Russian disinformation"

Biden and Obama
Photo: Samir Hussein/Samir Hussein/WireImage

The office of former President Barack Obama privately claimed in March that a Republican request for records related to Joe Biden and Ukraine would "give credence to a Russian disinformation campaign," according to a letter obtained by BuzzFeed News.

Why it matters: President Trump's efforts to pressure Ukraine to investigate unsubstantiated corruption allegations against Biden and his son fueled his impeachment last year.

  • Immediately after Trump's Senate acquittal, Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) announced a review of "potential conflicts of interest posed by the business activities of Hunter Biden and his associates during the Obama administration."
  • The pair of GOP senators also requested records of meetings between Obama officials and Alexandra Chalupa, a Democratic operative who has been at the heart of unfounded conspiracy theories about Ukrainian election interference.

What they're saying: A representative for Obama claimed in a letter to the National Archives and Records Administration that the Republicans' request "arises out of efforts by some, actively supported by Russia, to shift the blame for Russian interference in the 2016 election to Ukraine."

  • "The request for early release of presidential records in order to give credence to a Russian disinformation campaign — one that has already been thoroughly investigated by a bipartisan congressional committee — is without precedent."
  • "This use of the special access process serves no legitimate purpose, and does not outweigh or justify infringing confidentiality interests that all presidents have sought to protect."

The letter points to testimony by former top White House Russia expert Fiona Hill, who called the theory that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 election as "a fictional narrative that is being perpetrated and propagated by the Russian security services."

Yes, but: The letter conceded that the records could be released "in the interest of countering the misinformation campaign underlying this request."

Read the letter.

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