Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) accidentally revealed more evidence of corruption in the Trump administration’s dealings with Ukraine in the course of his investigation into Hunter Biden, according to a letter from Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR).
In an unbelievable twist of irony, the corruption allegation has to do with a cabinet-level Trump official pressuring the Ukrainian government to alter the composition of the board of a Ukrainian energy company.
Lawmakers came across the evidence last week during the testimony of Amos Hochstein, who serves on the supervisory board of state-owned Ukrainian oil and gas holding Naftogaz.
Hochstein told the investigation that former Energy Secretary Rick Perry “inappropriately pressured the Ukrainian government” to place a Houston-based businessman named Robert Bensch on the board of Naftogaz, while other DOE officials pressed Kyiv to sign an agreement with a “private business entity connected to Mr. Bensh,” the letter reads.
Wyden addressed the letter to the Department of Energy Inspector General. He noted that the Senate Homeland Security and Finance Committees “are concluding an investigation into potential conflicts of interest related to executive branch officials who are responsible for carrying out the United States Government’s foreign policy in Ukraine.”
“Witness testimony in this investigation has directly implicated former Secretary Rick Perry in alleged wrongdoing and the Department more broadly in a scheme to undermine anti-corruption efforts that were implemented by Ukraine in partnership with the international community,” Wyden added.
ProPublica reported on the allegations surrounding Perry and Naftogaz earlier this month.
Sens. Johnson and Chuck Grassley (R-IA) had used the probe to further unsubstantiated smears that Biden had improperly pressured the Ukrainian government to end an investigation of gas company Burisma in order to protect his son, Hunter Biden, who sat on the firm’s board.
Senate Republicans released the resulting report Wednesday morning, noting that “the extent to which Hunter Biden’s role on Burisma’s board affected U.S. policy toward Ukraine is not clear.”
A spokesman for Johnson did not return a request for comment.
A Democratic Senate Finance aide told TPM that uncovering new evidence of administration corruption “was certainly not Republicans’ goal.”
“While Republicans’ Ukraine investigation showed Vice President Biden did nothing wrong, it succeeded in implicating former Secretary Perry in a corrupt scheme to pressure the Ukrainian government to change the board of Naftogaz,” the aide said.
Read the letter here: