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U.S. Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, and Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, are rebuking a pair of their Senate colleagues for making false claims in the media about the chairmen’s ongoing oversight of the Obama administration. Those false claims are rooted in information from a foreign individual whom U.S. intelligence officials recently warned is seeking to influence the 2020 presidential election.

In separate national media appearances, Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) falsely claimed that Grassley and Johnson are relying on information from Andriy Derkach as part of their ongoing oversight, despite the chairmen’s clear denials of having any communication with Derkach. The chairmen have not received or requested anything from Derkach and have not relied on or released any of his work product. Derkach, whom the intelligence community assesses is attempting to spread disinformation in the United States, told U.S. press outlets that he sent material to the chairmen, as well as ranking Democrats Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Gary Peters (D-Mich.). Ironically, House and Senate Democrats have relied on Derkach’s claims to falsely suggest the chairmen’s oversight work is somehow tied to a foreign disinformation campaign.  The chairmen are in no way relying on such information and there exists no evidence to the contrary.

“Your public statements about our investigation knowingly and recklessly promote false narratives for political purposes, which undermines efforts to stop foreign disinformation campaigns.  Your public comments do more to amplify Ukrainian voices that you assert are engaged in disinformation and results in more apparent disinformation being inserted in the Congressional record and public record than if you respected the serious work of our committees,” Grassley and Johnson wrote in letters to Blumenthal and Van Hollen.

 

Text of the letters to Blumenthal and Van Hollen follows:

August 20, 2020

The Honorable Richard Blumenthal

U.S. Senate

Washington, D.C. 20510

Dear Senator Blumenthal,

We read your August 7, 2020, op-ed in the Washington Post regarding our investigation into potential conflicts of interest relating to the Obama administration’s policy decisions regarding Ukraine and Burisma while the Vice President’s son was on Burisma’s board.  You stated that the investigation is “perpetuating Russian disinformation in the U.S. Senate.”[1]

Your comments show a lack of understanding about our investigation.  They are not only factually inaccurate but also such a gross mischaracterization of our actual investigation that you are promoting a false narrative based on disinformation that only benefits Russia.

As we have stated publicly since before your op-ed, our investigation is focused on Obama administration records from the State Department, National Archives, Department of Justice, other federal agencies, and the U.S. consulting firm Blue Star Strategies, as well as speaking with current and former U.S. government officials.  How, exactly, is this disinformation?  Is it the one foreign national we spoke with about his communications and personal visits with the Obama administration; a DNC operative; and Blue Star Strategies, a prominent Democratic consulting firm?

If any of the material we’ve acquired from the Obama administration is, in your opinion, part of a Russian disinformation campaign, then that says more about the faults of the previous administration than it does about our inquiry.

Regarding reports that we have received “packages” of information from certain Ukrainian nationals – that is false.  Further, the only relevant disinformation that we are aware of are documents that Minority Leader Schumer, Senator Warner, Speaker Pelosi, and Chairman Schiff referenced in their recent letter that your Democratic colleagues have introduced into our investigation.  For example, the Schumer letter references a document, created by a Ukrainian national that mentions our names along with other Republican senators and administration officials, to suggest falsely that we might have received information from this individual.  Liberal media outlets have picked up that reference, clearly from a leak, even though we have not received any information from that person, including tapes, and we have publicly and privately stated as much.  To repeat, the only document in our investigation that has been described as disinformation is a document that your Democratic colleagues, not us, introduced into the record.  If you and your colleagues are so concerned about disinformation, why do you continue to promote it?

As we’ve stated to your Democratic colleagues and the media, we have neither sought out, relied upon, nor publicly released anything that could even remotely be considered disinformation.

Truth be told, you and your Democratic colleagues should know a thing or two about Russian disinformation.  For example, in April, we sought and received declassified versions of footnotes in the Justice Department Inspector General’s FISA report.[2]  Among other things, those footnotes revealed that the FBI received reporting in January 2017 and February 2017 that parts of the Democratic National Committee’s and Clinton Campaign’s Steele dossier were part of a Russian disinformation campaign.[3]  We are not aware of you or your Democratic colleagues commenting publicly on this disturbing revelation.  Where is your outrage about concerns of actual Russian disinformation contained in the Steele Dossier and Russian disinformation paid for by the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton campaign?  The Steele Dossier is the very definition of election interference, yet we hear no objections from you and your Democratic colleagues.

You repeatedly pushed the now-debunked Trump/Russia collusion conspiracy theory and the Steele Dossier in public, on the Senate floor, in Committee meetings, and in the press.  Based on the underlying intelligence reports that were withheld from the American people and Congress until recently, it is plain that when you and your colleagues peddled the dossier, they peddled Russian disinformation.  Indeed, Russian Intelligence Services knew about the dossier in early July 2016, before the FBI opened Crossfire Hurricane, which made the dossier the perfect vehicle to use for a disinformation campaign to sow chaos and discord.  You and your Democratic colleagues gave them exactly what they wanted.  Rather than heed these hard lessons, you seem intent on repeating them.

Your public statements about our investigation knowingly and recklessly promote false narratives for political purposes, which undermines efforts to stop foreign disinformation campaigns.  Your public comments do more to amplify Ukrainian voices that you assert are engaged in disinformation and results in more apparent disinformation being inserted in the Congressional record and public record than if you respected the serious work of our committees.  Just as we wrote to Minority Leader Schumer, Senator Warner, Speaker Pelosi, and Chairman Schiff in response to their error-laden letter, we call on you to stop playing political games with this issue.  It is simply too important.

Sincerely,

Charles E. Grassley

Chairman

Committee on Finance

Ron Johnson

Chairman

Committee on Homeland Security

and Governmental Affairs

The Honorable Chris Van Hollen

U.S. Senate

Washington, D.C. 20510

Dear Senator Van Hollen,

On August 8, 2020, you gave public comments regarding our investigation into potential conflicts of interest relating to the Obama administration’s policy decisions regarding Ukraine and Burisma while the Vice President’s son was on Burisma’s board.  You stated that this investigation is “part of an effort from Russia and Russian intelligence and Putin to spread this disinformation here in the United States.”[4]  You further stated that “it’s outrageous that senators would allow themselves to be used for this purpose.”[5]

Your comments show a lack of understanding about our investigation.  They are not only factually inaccurate but also such a gross mischaracterization of our actual investigation that you are promoting a false narrative based on disinformation that only benefits Russia.

As we have stated publicly since before your Saturday interview, our investigation is focused on Obama administration records from the State Department, National Archives, Department of Justice, other federal agencies, and the U.S. consulting firm Blue Star Strategies, as well as speaking with current and former U.S. government officials. How, exactly, is this disinformation?  Is it the one foreign national we spoke with about his communications and personal visits with the Obama administration; a DNC operative; and Blue Star Strategies, a prominent Democratic consulting firm?

If any of the material we’ve acquired from the Obama administration is, in your opinion, part of a Russian disinformation campaign, then that says more about the faults of the previous administration than it does about our inquiry.

Regarding reports that we have received “packages” of information from certain Ukrainian nationals – that is false.  Further, the only relevant disinformation that we are aware of are documents that Minority Leader Schumer, Senator Warner, Speaker Pelosi, and Chairman Schiff referenced in their recent letter that your Democratic colleagues have introduced into our investigation.  For example, the Schumer letter references a document, created by a Ukrainian national that mentions our names along with other Republican senators and administration officials, to suggest falsely that we might have received information from this individual.  Liberal media outlets have picked up that reference, clearly from a leak, even though we have not received any information from that person, including tapes, and we have publicly and privately stated as much.  To repeat, the only document in our investigation that has been described as disinformation is a document that your Democratic colleagues, not us, introduced into the record.  If you and your colleagues are so concerned about disinformation, why do you continue to promote it?

As we’ve stated to your Democratic colleagues and the media, we have neither sought out, relied upon, nor publicly released anything that could even remotely be considered disinformation.

Truth be told, you and your Democratic colleagues should know a thing or two about Russian disinformation.  For example, in April, we sought and received declassified versions of footnotes in the Justice Department Inspector General’s FISA report.[6]  Among other things, those footnotes revealed that the FBI received reporting in January 2017 and February 2017 that parts of the Democratic National Committee’s and Clinton Campaign’s Steele dossier were part of a Russian disinformation campaign.[7]  We are not aware of you or your Democratic colleagues commenting publicly on this disturbing revelation.  Where is your outrage about concerns of actual Russian disinformation contained in the Steele Dossier and Russian disinformation paid for by the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton campaign? The Steele Dossier is the very definition of election interference, yet we hear no objections from you and your Democratic colleagues.

Many of your Democratic colleagues repeatedly pushed the now-debunked Trump/Russia collusion conspiracy theory and the Steele Dossier in public, on the Senate floor, in Committee meetings, and in the press.  Based on the underlying intelligence reports that were withheld from the American people and Congress until recently, it is plain that when your colleagues peddled the dossier, they peddled Russian disinformation.  Indeed, Russian Intelligence Services knew about the dossier in early July 2016, before the FBI opened Crossfire Hurricane, which made the dossier the perfect vehicle to use for a disinformation campaign to sow chaos and discord.  You and your Democratic colleagues gave them exactly what they wanted.  Rather than heed these hard lessons, you seem intent on repeating them.  

Your public statements about our investigation knowingly and recklessly promote false narratives for political purposes, which undermines efforts to stop foreign disinformation campaigns.  Your public comments do more to amplify Ukrainian voices that you assert are engaged in disinformation and results in more apparent disinformation being inserted in the Congressional record and public record than if you respected the serious work of our committees.  Just as we wrote to Minority Leader Schumer, Senator Warner, Speaker Pelosi, and Chairman Schiff in response to their error-laden letter, we call on you to stop playing political games with this issue.  It is simply too important.

 

Sincerely,

 

Charles E. Grassley

Chairman

Committee on Finance

 

Ron Johnson

Chairman

Committee on Homeland Security

          and Governmental Affairs

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Author: Press Release