Former President Barack Obama has called Senate Republicans’ investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden’s son’s activities in Ukraine an effort “to give credence to a Russian disinformation campaign.” This is contained in a letter Obama’s office sent to the National Archives.
The letter represents Obama’s strongest reaction to date to Republican efforts to investigate unsubstantiated claims that Ukraine and not Russia interfered to help President Donald Trump win the 2016 election.
The letter, first reported Tuesday by BuzzFeed News, came in response to a November request from Sens. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin and Chuck Grassley of Iowa for records of White House meetings “between and among Obama administration officials, Ukrainian government representatives, and Democratic National Committee (DNC) officials.”
Johnson is chairman of the Senate’s Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, and Grassley leads the Senate Finance Committee. Their request came at the beginning of House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry of Trump and was part of their effort to prove the unfounded theory, backed by Russia, Trump and other Trump-allied Republicans, that it was Ukraine and not Russia that interfered in the 2016 election.
Obama’s March 13 response came on letterhead from the “Office of Barack and Michelle Obama” and was signed by Anita Decker Breckenridge, a former White House deputy chief of staff who is now the records representative to the former president. The letter never mentions Biden by name, but says the Republican senators’ request was out of line.
Biden’s son Hunter held a position on the board of the Ukrainian natural gas company Burisma while his father was vice president and leading the Obama administration’s Ukraine policy.
Democrats’ effort to impeach and remove Trump from office was based on revelations that he sought to instigate an investigation into the Bidens by threatening to withhold military aid to Ukraine unless its leaders complied with his requests to do so.
The Democratic-controlled House voted to impeach Trump in December. The Republican-controlled Senate acquitted him in February.
“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,” Decker Breckenridge wrote. “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.”
Still, Decker Breckenridge wrote that “in the interest of undermining the misinformation campaign underlying this request,” Obama’s office would offer the Senate committees access to the records they sought.
This article originally appeared in The New York Times