Quantcast
Connect with us

Republicans tried to smear Biden — but ‘directly implicated’ Rick Perry in corruption instead

Published

on

Rick Perry speaks to Fox News (screen grab)

The Republican report aimed at raising questions about the dealings of Democratic nominee Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden in Ukraine appears to have accidentally implicated former Energy Secretary Rick Perry in an energy scheme in the foreign nation, according to the top Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee.

Republicans led by Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., released their much-hyped report on Hunter Biden’s role at the Ukrainian energy firm Burisma on Wednesday. However, it found no evidence of actual wrongdoing and relied largely on debunked claims, old statements and narratives pushed as part of a Russian disinformation campaign.

ADVERTISEMENT

But the report did find new evidence related to Perry’s actions in Ukraine while he served in President Donald Trump’s Cabinet.

Amos Hochstein, a member of the supervisory board at the state-owned Ukrainian energy firm Naftogaz, told lawmakers that Perry “inappropriately pressured the Ukrainian government” to place Texas oil executive Robert Bensh on the board of the company while officials at the Department of Energy pressured the government to sign a deal with a “private business entity connected to Mr. Bensh,” according to a letter Wyden sent to Department of Energy Inspector General Teri Donaldson.

Perry also pressured the Ukrainian government to place one of his longtime campaign supporters, Michael Bleyzer, on the board during a trip to Ukraine for President Volodymyr Zelensky’s inauguration in 2019, Wyden wrote. Bleyzer and his partner were later awarded a drilling contract in the country.

“Mr. Bleyzer’s contract that he was awarded was despite the fact that he was not the highest bidder in the process,” Hochstein told lawmakers. “Other . . . bids were higher, and therefore, Ukraine chose a bid that paid itself less.”

The heads of the state-owned Naftogaz conglomerate have since filed a lawsuit seeking to overturn the contract, arguing that the Ukrainian government acted “illegally and with bias” in agreeing to the deal, Wyden noted.

ADVERTISEMENT

“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 wrote.

Politico reported last year that Perry — who along with then-Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland and Ukraine envoy Kurt Volker were the “three amigos” who pushed a shadow foreign policy in Ukraine — played an active role in the Trump administration’s pressure on Zelensky, which ultimately led to the president’s impeachment.

ProPublica reported earlier this month that Perry repeatedly pushed deals that “were potentially worth billions of dollars to Perry’s friends and political donors” and could “stand to benefit” the secretary himself. Two of the deals, including one worth $20 billion, went to the Texas firm Energy Transfer. Perry served on the company’s board before and after his stint at the Energy Department and bought shares now worth about $800,000 three months after leaving his post, according to the report.

ADVERTISEMENT

Ethics experts told the outlet that Perry’s efforts were violations of federal regulations. His actions also caught the attention of federal prosecutors, though he is reportedly not the target of any investigations.

The interview with Hochstein was part of the Senate Republicans’ investigation into whether Hunter Biden’s position at Burisma affected U.S. foreign policy. The report asserted that his position was “problematic and did interfere in the efficient execution of policy with respect to Ukraine.” However, it did not include any new evidence suggesting his role had affected the Obama administration’s policy. It also acknowledged that “the extent to which Hunter Biden’s role on Burisma’s board affected U.S. policy toward Ukraine is not clear.”

ADVERTISEMENT

Wyden, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee, said the probe pushed “Russian disinformation.” He further described it as a “an attempted political hit job facilitated by the State Department.”

A Finance Committee aide told Talking Points Memo that finding new evidence against the Trump administration “was certainly not Republicans’ goal.”

“While Republicans’ Ukraine investigation showed Vice President Biden did nothing wrong,” the aide said, “it succeeded in implicating former Secretary Perry in a corrupt scheme to pressure the Ukrainian government to change the board of Naftogaz.”

ADVERTISEMENT


Report typos and corrections to: [email protected].
READ COMMENTS - JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Continue Reading

Breaking Banner

Trump mask-shames CBS reporter Lesley Stahl — and ominously warns ‘much more to come’

Published

on

President Donald Trump has spent months belittling people for wearing masks during the COVID-19 pandemic.

His anti-mask attitude reportedly resulted in White House and campaign staff not wearing masks so as to avoid angering their boss.

And Trump has repeatedly attacked Joe Biden for wearing facial coverings -- even after the president was hospitalized for COVID-19.

But on Tuesday, Trump dramatically shifted his position and mask-shamed CBS "60 Minutes" reporter Lesley Stahl, posting video of her not wearing a mask while Trump was.

Trump included video of their interview in his tweet:

Continue Reading

Breaking Banner

McConnell warns Trump not to pass a stimulus deal before the election: report

Published

on

According to a report from the Washington Post, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told fellow Republicans this Tuesday that he warned the White House not to make a stimulus deal with Democrats before the election.

"McConnell suggested that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is not negotiating in good faith with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, and any deal they reach could disrupt the Senate’s plans to confirm Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court next week," the Post reports.

As the Post points out, McConnell's stance risks dashing any hopes that a stimulus deal would be passed before November 3rd.

Continue Reading
 

Breaking Banner

Legal analyst suggests ‘truth commission’ to bring the US back from Trumpism

Published

on

“When a plane falls out of the sky, we don’t just shrug our shoulders and say, 'gravity has consequences'” wrote legal analyst Elie Mystal in his column for "The Nation" Tuesday.

After five years of dealing with President Donald Trump, Mystal thinks that the way to bring the United States back to normal is with a kind of "truth and reconciliation commission."

He recalled in 2009 when former President Barack Obama came into office he was asked if he would appoint a special prosecutor to investigate George W. Bush's administration for the torture scandal and illegal detention.

Continue Reading
 
 
Democracy is in peril. Invest in progressive news. Join Raw Story Investigates for $1. Go ad-free. LEARN MORE