Republicans on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee voted Wednesday to authorize subpoenas and depositions as part of their probe into the FBI’s Russia investigation and Obama administration officials’ role in the presidential transition period.
The 8-6 vote along party lines authorized Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson, the committee’s chairman, to issue subpoenas and plan closed-door depositions with about 40 individuals, The Hill reported.
“Our investigation is focused on covering and revealing the truth, but Democrats seem intent at every turn to frustrate and interfere with our oversight efforts,” Johnson said.
The top Democrat on the panel, Michigan Sen. Gary Peters, has accused the Republicans of a embarking on a “partisan fishing expedition” by pursuing the investigation.
“I’m disappointed that our committee is once again meeting to discuss the authorization of subpoenas instead … of the serious challenges facing Americans,” Peters said.
“Your own public comments … state that your desire to reinvestigate these matters demonstrates the alarming partisan nature of this investigation, which is designed to influence the presidential election.”
The subpoena and deposition notices stem from an investigation Johnson is running with Wisconsin GOP Sen. Chuck Grassley, the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee.
The probe looks into the FBI’s investigation of Russian election interference, including its surveillance of former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page, and the transition between the Obama and Trump administration.
Separately, the two officials are also leading an investigation into former President Barack Obama’s State Department, Ukraine policy and the Bidens.
On Wednesday, the Senate Homeland Security panel decided at the last minute to scrap a vote to authorize a subpoena of Bridget Brink, the U.S. ambassador to Slovakia, as part of the investigation into Joe and Hunter Biden, Politico reported.
Johnson said he pulled the vote to subpoena Brink because the ambassador had agreed to testify voluntarily.
Sen. Mitt Romney said he would have voted against the subpoena, claiming that the investigation into the Bidens had the “earmarks of a political exercise.”
“I’m fearful that comments made in the media recently have only confirmed that perspective,” the Utah Republican said.
“It’s not the legitimate role of government, or for Congress, or for taxpayer expense to be used in an effort to damage political opponents and therefore I am pleased that our votes today do not include additional authorizations relating to the, I’ll call it, Biden-Burisma investigation.”
Johnson has argued that his investigation is not aimed at undermining Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden but has strongly indicated his forthcoming interim report could damage Biden’s political future.
“Stay tuned,” Johnson told GOP activists during a video on Monday, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported. “In about a week we’re going to learn a whole lot more of Vice President Biden’s fitness for office.”
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