Republican Sen. John CornynJohn CornynGOP turns furor on media amid impeachment fight Rand Paul: ‘We deserve to know’ identity of Trump whistleblower The Hill’s Morning Report – Giuliani subpoenaed as Trump rages against Schiff, whistleblower MORE (Texas) created waves Friday with a tweet that said the Department of Justice is investigating Joe BidenJoe BidenTop US diplomat suggested he could ‘quit’ over Ukraine dealings House Democrats release Trump officials’ text exchanges discussing Ukraine Sasse breaks with Trump’s call for probe: ‘Americans don’t look to Chinese commies for the truth’ MORE, a leading Democratic presidential candidate.
Cornyn, a close adviser to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellHow the impeachment process works Pelosi, Trump may reach trade deal despite impeachment 2020 Democrats push for gun control action at forum MORE (R-Ky.), wrote in the tweet that “the Trump Justice Department is investigating foreign government influence, VP Biden conflicts of interest, and possible corruption.”
Cornyn’s tweet immediately attracted attention, as any effort by Trump’s Justice Department to investigate a leading Democratic rival will stir controversy and prompt charges from Democrats that Trump is abusing his power for personal political gain.
It’s not clear, however, whether Justice is actually investigating Biden.
A Cornyn aide said his boss was referring to the ongoing investigation by John DurhamJohn DurhamGOP turns furor on media amid impeachment fight The Hill’s 12: 30 Report: Pompeo, Barr drawn into Ukraine web Graham sending letter to countries asking them to cooperate with DOJ probe into Russia investigation MORE, the U.S. attorney in New Haven, Conn., whom Attorney General William BarrWilliam Pelham BarrHouse Democrats release Trump officials’ text exchanges discussing Ukraine Hillicon Valley: Barr targets Facebook’s encryption plans | Social media platforms dragged into 2020 fight | EU court says Facebook can be ordered to remove content | FBI warns of ‘high-impact’ ransomware attacks Trump recalled Ukraine ambassador after complaints from Giuliani, other allies: report MORE tapped in May to investigate the origins of the FBI’s investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian officials in 2016.
Cornyn also stated on Twitter that the Justice Department is probing “the provenance of the bogus opposition research compiled for the Clinton campaign produced by an ex-British spy,” referring to a dossier compiled by Christopher Steele, who at one point worked as an FBI informant and is believed to be central to the FBI’s decision to conduct a counterintelligence investigation of the Trump campaign.
The Department of Justice did not respond immediately to a request for comment from The Hill.
Kerri Kupec, a spokeswoman for the department, told The Middletown Press last month that Durham “is gathering information from numerous sources, including a number of foreign counties.”
“At Attorney General Barr’s request, the president has contacted other countries to ask them to introduce the attorney general and Mr. Durham to appropriate officials,” she said.
President TrumpDonald John TrumpTop US diplomat suggested he could ‘quit’ over Ukraine dealings READ: Trump officials’ texts discussing Ukraine House Democrats release Trump officials’ text exchanges discussing Ukraine MORE pressed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in a July 25 phone call to investigate Biden as well as the possibility that individuals based in Ukraine interfered in the 2016 presidential election.
That phone call later triggered a whistleblower complaint alleging that Trump abused the power of this office. It also helped launch an impeachment inquiry from the House.
Asked on Friday whether the Justice Department is investigating Biden, Trump told reporters to refer the question to Barr.
“Well, that you’d have to ask Attorney General Barr, but I can tell you just as an observer, what I saw Biden do with his son, he is pillaging these countries and he is hurting us,” the president said.
In a nine-page complaint to the intelligence community’s inspector general, an unnamed whistleblower raised concern that Ukrainian officials were working with the Department of Justice to investigate Biden as well as allegations that Ukrainian officials had interfered in the 2016 election.
In the complaint, the whistleblower notes that “in several public comments, Mr. Lutsenko also stated that he wished to communicate directly with Attorney General Barr on these matters,” referring to Ukraine’s former prosecutor general Yuriy Lutsenko.
In a footnote, the whistleblower questioned whether Durham was investigating Biden as part of his broader probe into how the FBI’s investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian officials originated.
“In an interview with Fox News on 8 August, Mr. Giuliani claimed that Mr. John Durham, whom Attorney General Barr designated to lead this probe, was ‘spending a lot of time in Europe’ because he was ‘investigating Ukraine.’ I do not know the extent to which, if at all, Mr. Giuliani is directly coordinating his efforts on Ukraine with Attorney General Barr or Mr. Durham,” the whistleblower wrote, making reference to Trump’s personal attorney Rudy GiulianiRudy GiulianiREAD: Trump officials’ texts discussing Ukraine House Democrats release Trump officials’ text exchanges discussing Ukraine Warren calls for transcript of Trump’s call with Chinese leader to be released MORE.
Trump last year demanded the Department of Justice investigate whether the Justice Department under former President Obama “infiltrated or surveilled the Trump campaign for political purposes.”
The FBI launched a counterintelligence investigation into possible links between the Trump campaign and Russian officials in July of 2016, and in March of 2016 the FBI interviewed Trump campaign adviser Carter Page about his contacts in Russia.
Prior to the launch of that investigation, the FBI was working with former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele, the author of a dossier alleging a variety of improper conduct by Trump, then a candidate, as a confidential informant.
Trump’s allies in the Republican Party suspect the FBI’s investigation into Trump’s campaign may have been politically motivated.
GOP lawmakers in recent days have also raised concerns about payments of as high as $50,000 a month that Hunter Biden received as the paid board member of Burisma Holdings, a Ukrainian energy company that had been investigated in Ukraine for possible corruption.
Ukraine’s new top prosecutor, Ruslan Ryaboshapka, announced on Friday that he plans to review 15 past high-profile cases handled by previous prosecutors general, including the past investigation of Burisma.
The previous Ukrainian prosecutor general, Lutsenko, said late last month that he did not think Hunter Biden violated any Ukrainian laws.
Morgan Chalfant contributed.