Two prominent GOP Senators, Chuck Grassley and Ron Johnson, have accused their Democratic colleagues of “selectively leaking” information from their joint investigation into Hunter Biden’s business dealings in Ukraine while his father was vice president.
Yahoo News reported last week that the Treasury Department had complied with Republicans who were asking for financial records on Biden, citing “a leading Democrat on one of the committees conducting the investigation.” The report quoted the Democrat as saying the evidence turned over to the Senate committees was “of questionable origin.”
“We have shared our ongoing investigation efforts with our Democrat ranking members as a courtesy and with the understanding that sensitive information would be treated appropriately and remain confidential,” Johnson and Grassley said in a statement. “It is disappointing that one or more of our colleagues would actively seek to undermine our legitimate oversight by selectively leaking information to the press.”
The Republican senators called the leaks “highly inappropriate” and emphasized that any responses from the Treasury Department to the senators’ queries would be “highly sensitive.”
Democrats contrasted the Trump administration’s responsiveness to the Senate probe with its complete stonewalling of last year’s House impeachment investigation, alleging hypocrisy.
Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., who sits on the Finance Committee, told Yahoo News that the swift response from Treasury is a “blatant double standard” considering how the Trump administration responded — or rather, did not respond — to Democrats’ effort to obtain documents and witness testimony in his impeachment trial.
“The administration told House Democrats to go pound sand when their oversight authority was mandatory while voluntarily cooperating with the Senate Republicans’ sideshow at lightning speed,” a spokesman from Wyden told the website.
Grassley and Johnson said there was no double standard, as there was no implication of executive privilege in the documents on “suspicious financial transactions” that the Senate sought on Hunter Biden. Executive privilege is a procedural shield that protects the president from being forced to turn over information about his deliberations with advisors, particularly on foreign policy.
“In fact, Democrats have recently received productions from Treasury pursuant to their oversight requests,” the Republicans said. “If the administration were to claim privilege over requested material, as the Obama administration did in the ‘Operation Fast and Furious’ investigation, members of Congress can use other tools at their disposal – including the courts – to compel cooperation.”