Johnson and Grassley push back against accusations they're spreading Russian disinformation

Johnson and Grassley push back against accusations they’re spreading Russian disinformation

Their letter was addressed to Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Senate Intelligence Committee Vice Chairman Mark Warner (D-Va.), and House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.).

The four lawmakers make up the Democratic half of the Gang of Eight, the group of congressional and intelligence committee leaders who are privy to top-secret intelligence. Representatives for the Democrats did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Last month, the group demanded a briefing for all members of Congress focused on foreign interference in the 2020 election, based on their assertions that lawmakers are being targeted by those meddling efforts. They have also urged the Trump administration to publicly reveal additional information about the nature of the foreign-influence campaign. Intelligence officials told House lawmakers last week that the Russians are seeking to boost President Donald Trump in the 2020 campaign.

The public version of the letter was vague about those threats, but POLITICO reported that the classified addendum to the letter specifically names Johnson’s investigation as vehicle for “laundering” a foreign influence campaign aimed at denigrating Biden.

POLITICO also reported that the addendum states that a Ukrainian lawmaker, Andrii Derkach, sent information about Biden to Johnson, Grassley and other Trump allies who have pushed similar corruption claims against the Bidens. The senators have denied receiving such informational packets from Derkach, a Ukrainian lawmaker linked to the Kremlin who has long attempted to tar Biden.

Johnson and Grassley confirmed in the letter that the addendum does, in fact, mention the Biden investigation and the Derkach packets. They also said they did not receive access to the classified addendum until “late last week.”

“Your misplaced motives aside, the substance of your letter and addendum also grossly mischaracterizes our investigation in an effort to shoehorn it into the false ‘Russian disinformation’ narrative you have promoted for years,” Johnson and Grassley wrote, accusing Democrats of weaponizing Russian interference to advance their political goals.

The investigation centers on claims that a Democratic public-relations firm sought to leverage Hunter Biden’s position on the board of a Ukrainian energy company, Burisma, in order to influence the Obama-era State Department.

“Far from promoting Russian disinformation, our investigation is focused on uncovering the facts concerning what did and did not occur so that we can put these matters to rest,” the senators wrote.

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