The Biden campaign in a scathing memo slammed U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson over a “desperate taxpayer-funded smear campaign” by a panel led by the Oshkosh Republican.
The panel is conducting a probe into the presumptive Dem nominee’s son’s involvement with a Ukrainian energy company.
The memo, obtained by WisPolitics.com, comes one day after Dem leaders in Congress warned the probe is a tool for “laundering” a foreign interference campaign seeking to damage Biden’s chances of winning the presidency in November. In a Tuesday letter to FBI Director Chris Wray, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and ranking Dem members of Intelligence panels in both houses called for lawmakers to be briefed by the FBI.
The investigation in question, which has been in the works since early this year, seeks to compel testimony from Blue Star Strategies, a Dem public affairs firm that did consulting work for a Ukrainian energy company. Hunter Biden sat on the board.
Johnson previously said the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee has received records indicating Blue Star “sought to leverage Hunter Biden’s role as a board member of Burisma to gain access to, and potentially influence matters at, the State Department.”
The top Dem on that panel, Sen. Gary Peters of Michigan, has long opposed the probe, saying in March he was concerned it “could be used to further disinformation efforts by Russian or other actors.”
Congress’ top Dems added their weight to that argument in the letter to Wray.
“We are gravely concerned, in particular, that Congress appears to be the target of a concerted foreign interference campaign, which seeks to launder and amplify disinformation in order to influence congressional activity, public debate, and the presidential election in November,” the letter said.
The letter did not name Johnson’s probe, but media outlets in Washington reported a classified attachment to the letter that was not publicly released identified the investigation as the source of concern.
A Johnson spokesman in an email to WisPolitics.com slammed the letter.
“It does a disservice to our election security efforts when Democrats use the threat of Russian disinformation as a weapon to cast doubt on investigations they don’t like but are silent when recently declassified intelligence revealed that Democrat-funded opposition research on the Trump campaign contained actual Russian disinformation,” spokesman Austin Altenburg said.
The Biden campaign’s memo went one step further than the congressional letter, slamming Johnson for using government resources on the probe instead of focusing on the coronavirus pandemic.
“Instead of dedicating the Senate Homeland Security Committee’s taxpayer-funded resources to the worst public health crisis we’ve faced in over a century, Senator Johnson — who has made a series of extremely troubling statements about the value of American lives during the outbreak — is instead diverting those resources to a wasteful charade founded on an exposed lie,” Deputy Campaign Manager Kate Bedingfield wrote in the memo.
Altenburg countered that claims made by Dems “are false, and the Democrats know this.”
See the letter: