The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee voted to give Chairman Ron Johnson subpoena authority on Thursday as part of its investigation into the origins of the Russia probe.
The committee voted along party lines to give Johnson the power to issue subpoenas for over 35 people and a large number of documents without having to come back to the committee for a vote every time he wants an individual subpoena, The Hill reported.
The Wisconsin Republican has the authority to subpoena former FBI Director James Comey, former National Security Advisor Susan Rice and former CIA Director John Brennan, as well as other Obama administration officials.
He can also issue subpoenas for FBI and State Department records related to “Crossfire Hurricane” and Christopher Steele, respectively, as well as documents related to Obama administration officials’ attempts to “unmask” people tied to the Trump orbit.
Unmasking is the intelligence term used for those instances when American citizens speaking to foreign nationals under surveillance have their identities revealed. It takes an official request to do so.
Republican-led Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee authorizes @SenRonJohnson to issue subpoenas FBI Crossfire Hurricane, State Dept contact author “Steele Dossier” and unmasking by former government officials. +30 names READ @CBSNews pic.twitter.com/34g4q8hz6w
— Catherine Herridge (@CBS_Herridge) June 5, 2020
“The conduct we know that occurred during the transition [between the Obama and Trump administrations] should concern everyone and absolutely warrants further investigation,” Johnson said Thursday.
“The subpoena authority I am requesting today will help us gather the necessary information. Hopefully, the agencies and individuals will fully cooperate, and the number of subpoenas required will be limited.”
Johnson is in charge of the panel’s investigation into “Crossfire Hurricane.” His probe is looking into the investigation of former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn and leaks from the early days of the Trump administration.
Johnson said he intends to work closely with Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham, who is in charge of the Judiciary Committee’s inquiry focused on the origins of the investigation into alleged ties between the Trump campaign and Russia and alleged Foreign Surveillance Intelligence Act abuses.
Although Senate Republicans on the Homeland Security Committee voted to give Johnson the subpoena authority, there were still signs of a divide in the party.
Utah GOP Sen. Mitt Romney voted to give Johnson the subpoena power after he was able to get changes to “narrow” the scope of the investigation so inspectors general could not be subpoenaed, The Hill reported.
“I believe there are far more urgent priorities the committee should address,” Romney said, adding that he fears this investigation is “politically motivated.”
“I’d also note that this matter has already been investigated by the [inspector general] and is now being invested by the Justice Department.”
The top Democrat on the panel wrote a letter to Johnson saying that the subpoena authority seemed to be a “partisan fishing expedition.”
“These actions divide our Committee at a time when Americans need us to be united. Pursued in this fashion, the work of the Committee will not be trusted. Politicizing a Committee investigation into the FBI and DOJ serves only to undermine all three institutions,” Michigan Sen. Gary Peters said.
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