• Hunter Biden was a member of the Burisma Board of Directors, a lucrative position he acknowleged was probably the result of his father's vice presidency
  • Trump has vowed to make the younger Biden a campaign issue
  • On Tuesday, a Ukraine lawmaker with ties to the KGB  released what he said were snippets of conversations between Joe Biden and former Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko

The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee approved subpoenas Wednesday to seek documents on the work Hunter Biden, the son of presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden, did for the Ukrainian energy company Burisma.

Republicans have been trying to drum up interest in the younger Biden’s business dealings since President Trump’s impeachment defense team attempted to use them to distract from accusations against the president. Trump, who was impeached for trying to get Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky to announce an investigation of the Bidens, has vowed to make Hunter Biden a major campaign issue.

Hunter Biden was a member of the Burisma board – a position he acknowledged largely was thanks to his father’s position as vice president -- and earned hundreds of thousands of dollars despite having virtually no expertise in the energy field.

The vote came after a Ukrainian lawmaker released recordings of former Vice President Biden speaking with former Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko. The lawmaker, Andriy Derkach, met with Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani, who has been spearheading an investigation into the Bidens’ Ukraine dealings.

Democrats call the Hunter Biden investigation a bad idea at a time when the country should be pulling together to fight the coronavirus pandemic.

“At this moment when Americans need us to work together, this extremely partisan investigation is pulling us apart,” Sen. Gary Peters, D-Mich., said.

Committee Chairman Ron Johnson, R-Wis., defended the action, asking: “What is everybody worried about? If there’s nothing there, we’ll find out there’s nothing there. But if there’s something there, the American people need to know that.” He has said he would issue a report before the Nov. 3 general election.

There has been no evidence the elder Biden did anything as vice president to benefit his son.

Since last week, Trump has been tweeting about unspecified wrongdoing committed by the previous administration, something he labeled “Obamagate.” Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., has sought a list of Obama administration officials who sought to unmask the identities of Trump associates picked up on foreign surveillance intercepts – a routine practice employed to determine the seriousness of the contacts.

Derkach, an independent lawmaker aligned with a pro-Russia faction and whose father headed Ukraine’s intelligence service and who once attended a KGB training school, told a Kyiv news conference he had edited fragments of phone conversations between Joe Biden and Poroshenko. He said he received the material from “investigative journalists.”

Biden has acknowledged he pressured Poroshenko to fire a prosecutor viewed as corrupt by the United States and its allies. At the time, the prosecutor had closed an investigation into Burisma. Giuliani has alleged Biden pushed for the firing to protect his son despite the fact Biden was carrying out U.S. policy.

Biden spokesman Andrew Bates noted the tapes had been edited “heavily.”

“And it’s still a nothingburger,” he said.