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Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.). Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Senate Republicans, led by Sens. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), on Wednesday released an interim report on their probe into Joe Biden and his son's dealings in Ukraine.

Why it matters: The report's rushed release ahead of the presidential election is certainly timed to damage Biden, amplifying bipartisan concern that the investigation was meant to target the former vice president's electoral chances.

  • The Senate Homeland Security Committee and GOP staff for the Senate Finance Committee investigated Hunter Biden's work for Ukrainian gas company Burisma at a time when Joe Biden was leading the Obama administration's Ukraine policy.

The state of play: The report ultimately fails to support one of Republicans' top claims about the Burisma affair — that, as vice president, Joe Biden fought for the ouster of Ukraine's top prosecutor, Viktor Shokin, to protect Burisma and his son from scrutiny on corruption issues.

  • In fact, European countries and international bodies had contemporaneously accused Shokin of failing to pursue corruption, including in the Burisma case, and wanted him fired.
  • The report also leans on a statement from senior U.S. diplomat George Kent that Hunter Biden's work in Ukraine was "very awkward" — a sentiment he already expressed last year during President Trump's impeachment hearings.
  • Kent also told impeachment investigators that Joe Biden had done nothing wrong with his Ukraine work.

The other side: Biden campaign spokesman Andrew Bates said that Johnson's investigation served to "subsidize a foreign attack against the sovereignty of our elections with taxpayer dollars — an attack founded on a long-disproven, hardcore right-wing conspiracy theory."

  • Democrats have called the probe a "fishing expedition" intended to damage Biden ahead of the election, while intelligence officials have warned that some of the sources Johnson relied on may be laundering Russian disinformation.
  • Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) said last week that the investigation had the "earmarks of a political exercise." He added, "It’s not the legitimate role of government, for Congress or for taxpayer expense, to be used in an effort to damage political opponents."

The bottom line, via Politico's Andrew Desiderio and Kyle Cheney: The report "is largely a compilation of previously public information — some of it rehashed anew by witnesses who already testified during the House’s impeachment inquiry last year — as well as news articles and strongly worded insinuations with little evidence to back them up."

Read the report.

Go deeper

Romney: White House should "say something aggressive" on Russian cyberattack

Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty

Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) called on the White House to “aggressively” condemn a suspected Russian cyberattack in an interview with SiriusXM on Thursday evening.

Why it matters: Since news broke that hackers tied to Russia penetrated U.S. government networks and companies, public officials including President-elect Biden have come forward with rebukes. President Trump has been largely silent, though the White House has held emergency meetings with officials across agencies to address the breach, per Bloomberg.

47 mins ago - World

Sudan's military places civilian prime minister under house arrest

Sudanese Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok during a 2020 news conference in Khartoum, Sudan. Photo: Mahmoud Hjaj/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Sudan's civilian Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok was put under house arrest and several other ministers were also detained Monday in what appears to be a military coup in the country, per local reports.

Why it matters: The arrests of the civilian faction in the Sudanese government came a day after U.S. envoy Jeffrey Feltman met with the head of the military faction of the Sudanese government General Abdul Fattah al-Burhan and warned him against staging a coup.

"Atmospheric river" swings Northern California from drought to flood

Satellite view of the bomb cyclone swirling off the coast of the Pacific Northwest and the atmospheric river affecting California on Oct. 24. Photo: CIRA/RAMMB

A series of powerful "atmospheric river" storms are delivering historic amounts of rainfall across parts of drought-stricken California and the Pacific Northwest — triggering widespread power outages and flooding.

Why it matters: The strong atmospheric river, packing large amounts of moisture, is causing Northern California to whiplash from drought to flood.