The Democratic chairman of the US House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee has issued a subpoena to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo demanding documents he provided to Senate Republicans investigating the son of Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden.
A Republican-led Senate committee has been gathering information related to Hunter Biden, son of the former vice president who is set to be Republican President Donald Trump’s opponent in the November election.
Committee Chairman Eliot Engel said Friday he had issued the subpoena as part an investigation into Pompeo’s “apparent use of Department of State resources to advance a political smear of former Vice President Joe Biden”.
The subpoena also asks for internal department emails about responding to Congress.
The committee says Pompeo had delivered more than 16,000 pages of records to the Senate but refused to send the same materials to the Democrat-led House.
“I want to see the full record of what the department has sent to the Senate and I want the American people to see it too,” the House committee’s chairman, Representative Eliot Engel, said in a statement.
The younger Biden is a former board member of the Ukrainian energy company Burisma, which was thrust into the global spotlight last year in a House impeachment inquiry into whether Trump improperly pressured Ukraine’s leader into opening an investigation into the Bidens.
Trump made the request of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on a July 2019 phone call that was later revealed by a whistle-blower’s complaint.
The House impeached Trump in December for pressuring the Ukrainian government to announce an investigation while withholding military aid to the country. The Senate acquitted him in February.
There is no evidence of wrongdoing by the Bidens, and Hunter Biden has denied using his influence with his father to aid Burisma.
Democrats have criticised Senate Republicans for continuing to probe the allegations against Biden, saying it amplifies Russian propaganda.
House and Senate Democratic leaders sent a letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray last month saying they are concerned that Congress appears to be the target of a “concerted foreign interference campaign to influence the 2020 presidential election, which seeks to launder and amplify disinformation in order to influence congressional activity, public debate, and the presidential election in November”.
The letter, which did not specifically mention the probe into Hunter Biden, but included a classified addendum that reportedly did, asked Wray for an all-members, classified briefing on the possible targeting of Congress before the August recess.
Wray has not yet offered the requested briefing, but legislators did receive a classified briefing early Friday on general election security. Leaving that meeting, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she is concerned “the American people should be better informed”.
The new efforts by Democrats come as the nation’s intelligence agencies, congressional intelligence committees and Joe Biden have all warned of renewed election interference by Russia this year. Trump himself has been loath to discuss the subject or acknowledge that Russia tried to sow discord in the 2016 contest by hacking Democratic accounts and pushing out inflammatory content on social media.
Still, his administration has warned that Russia and other countries will likely try again.
In a statement last week, William Evanina, the government’s chief counterintelligence official, said adversaries such as China, Russia and Iran are seeking to compromise US private communications and infrastructure in campaigns. It also warned of disinformation campaigns on social media.