Top House committee chairs are stepping up their efforts to obtain documentation critical to the ongoing impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden. Specifically, the House Oversight Committee, chaired by James Comer (R-KY), the House Committee on the Judiciary, chaired by Jim Jordan (R-OH), and the House Committee on Ways and Means, chaired by Jason Smith (R-MO), have sent a letter to White House Counsel Edward Siskel demanding the release of early drafts of a 2015 speech given by then-Vice President Biden in Ukraine. The letter accuses the Biden administration of obstructing the investigation and using "dilatory tactics" to delay the release of these documents.
The 2015 speech in question has become a focal point in the impeachment inquiry, as it is believed that Biden's call for the firing of former Ukrainian prosecutor Viktor Shokin may have been an attempt to interfere in the investigation of corruption allegations against Burisma, a Ukrainian energy company. At the time, Biden's son, Hunter, was serving on Burisma's board of directors, leading to speculation that Biden may have used his position as vice president to help his son.
The letter to White House Counsel Siskel further stated that the Oversight Committee had requested "all drafts from November 1, 2015 to December 9, 2015" of Biden's speech to the Ukrainian Rada on December 9, 2015. However, despite being able to provide these documents within a week of receiving the request, the White House has refused to release the documents, citing Executive Order 13489 and extending their review period multiple times.
The chairmen of the three House committees accused the White House of obstructing their legitimate investigation and called the delay in releasing the documents "unacceptable." The statement also suggested that the White House's actions may be an attempt to cover up potential wrongdoing by the Biden administration.
🚨 BREAKING 🚨
The White House is REFUSING to hand over early drafts of President Biden’s 2015 Ukraine speech where he called for the firing of the Ukrainian prosecutor, Viktor Shokin.
These drafts are important as it is believed, based on public reporting, that the then-VP… pic.twitter.com/HXuUkVGBAM
— Oversight Committee (@GOPoversight) January 31, 2024
The investigation into President Biden's involvement in his son's foreign business dealings has been ongoing, with allegations that the president may have used his influence to pressure the Ukrainian government into firing Shokin. This accusation is supported by a memo that showed U.S. officials receiving pressure from Burisma to make the allegations disappear and "fearing that the energy firm had made bribes in Ukraine." This may also tie into reports of alleged bribery payments involving the Bidens.
In addition, a State Department official, George Kent, blamed Hunter Biden for weakening the anti-corruption message being promoted by the U.S. government in Ukraine, due to his ties to Burisma. This is supported by a recording of a call between Biden and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko in which Poroshenko mentions asking Shokin to resign, despite admitting that there were no corruption charges against him.
Despite these findings, the White House has continued to refuse to release the requested documents, prompting the House committee chairs to take more aggressive measures to obtain them. The letter to Siskel warns the administration that if they continue to obstruct the investigation, the House may use legal means to compel the release of the documents. This could potentially include issuing a subpoena or holding individuals in contempt of Congress.
The House committees have emphasized the importance of these documents to their investigation, as they could shed light on any potential wrongdoing by the Biden administration. They also believe that transparency is necessary for the American people to have confidence in their government and its leaders.
In the coming weeks, the battle between the House committees and the Biden administration over the release of the documents is likely to intensify as both sides dig in their heels. With House Republicans pushing for the documents to be handed over and the White House resisting, it remains to be seen how the situation will unfold. Meanwhile, the American people continue to await the outcome of the impeachment inquiry and the potential impact it may have on the Biden administration.