A Republican-controlled Senate committee voted Wednesday to move forward with authorizing more than three dozen subpoenas and depositions in its investigation into former Obama administration officials involved in the presidential transition period, Politico reports.
But, according to Politico, the panel decided not to vote on authorizing a subpoena to Bridget Brink, the U.S. ambassador to Slovakia, as part of the committee’s investigation into Joe and Hunter Biden. According to aides, the vote was no longer necessary because Brink agreed to testify voluntarily.
Now, committee chairman Sen. Ron Johnson has the ability to compel testimony for current and former officials including former FBI Director James Comey, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, former Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew, and more than two dozen others.
Those subpoenas and deposition notices are part of Johnson’s investigation into the presidential transition period in 2016 and 2017, as well as allegations that Obama administration officials abused their authority as part of the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. Last month, Johnson subpoenaed the FBI for documents related to that probe.
The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee’s top Democrat, Sen. Gary Peters, sent a letter to Johnson on Monday objecting to the proposed subpoenas and deposition notices. He accused Johnson of using the committee’s authority to boost Trump’s reelection effort, according to Politico.
“You persist in this course of action despite the fact that you are knowingly advancing discredited claims that our own intelligence community has warned are part of a Russian attack on our democracy,” Peters wrote, adding that the investigation into the presidential transition process “duplicates” an ongoing review by the Senate Judiciary Committee and similar probes that have been already completed, including by the Justice Department’s inspector general.
“Despite my warnings and the assessments of our own intelligence community, you persist in using the committee as a conduit for a foreign adversary’s attack on our democracy,” Peters added.
Johnson has denied that this investigation has anything to do with the election. But Politico reports he told a radio host recently that the probe “would certainly help Donald Trump win reelection and certainly be pretty good, I would say, evidence about not voting for Vice President Biden.”
Mitt Romney noted that the Biden investigation “has the earmarks of a political exercise” as he referenced Johnson’s “recent remarks in the media.”
Romney also said it was “not the legitimate role of government, for Congress or for taxpayer expense, to be used in an effort to damage political opponents.” But he did vote in favor of the subpoenas and depositions for the transition period investigation.
Politico reports that Johnson is preparing to release an interim report on that investigation, which examines Hunter Biden’s role on the board of the Ukrainian gas company Burisma.
Democrats have claimed both investigations are aimed at tarnishing Biden ahead of the election. Johnson has defended the probes and said he is “focused on uncovering and revealing the truth.”
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