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.

Go deeper

Dave Lawler, author of World
Aug 13, 2020 - World

Ambassadors sign letter defending Susan Rice's record in Africa

Susan Rice at the UN in 2012. Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Former top diplomats who worked with Susan Rice have signed a letter rebutting a recent New York Times column in which Bret Stephens referred to her as “inept” and a “sycophant to despots.”

Why it matters: Rice has long been a target of conservative criticism, but many former colleagues have lined up to offer support during her return to the national spotlight as a potential running mate to Joe Biden. She's now seen as a leading contender for a top job, perhaps secretary of state, in a potential Biden administration.

Biden campaign raises $26 million in 24 hours after announcing Harris as running mate

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. Photo: Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images

Joe Biden's campaign announced on Wednesday that it raised $26 million in the 24 hours after revealing Sen. Kamala Harris as his vice presidential pick.

Why it matters: The cash influx signals that Harris has helped the Democratic presidential campaign pick up steam. Nearly 150,000 contributors were first-time donors, according to the campaign statement.

15 mins ago - World

Scoop: Secret Israel-Sudan contacts paved the way for deal sealed by Trump

Trump on the phone with the leaders of Sudan and Israel. Photo: Alex Edelman/AFP via Getty

While the U.S. officially brokered the Israel-Sudan normalization deal, it was Israel that facilitated talks between the U.S. and Sudan on the broader deal that included Sudan’s removal from America’s state sponsors of terrorism list.

Why it matters: Israel’s secret contacts with Sudanese officials paved the way for a deal that was nearly a year in the making.