(Headline USA) After weeks of back-and-forth inter-party wrangling within the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, Republicans voted 8-6 to approve subpoenas for several high-profile figures involved in Obama-era scandals.
Both played instrumental roles in elevating the now-debunked Steele Dossier from its origin as Democrat-funded opposition research to the primary basis for spying on Trump campaign officials and initiating a costly investigation that sought to undermine the Republican’s candidacy and presidency.
Also include among the newly authorized subpoenas were those relating to a separate investigation into Democrat Joe Biden’s son Hunter.
Romney, a longtime foe and critic of President Donald Trump, was the only Republican in either chamber of Congress to vote in favor of Trump’s impeachment in February.
Johnson is leading the investigation into Burisma, a gas company in Ukraine that paid Hunter Biden to serve as a board member while Joe Biden was vice president and oversaw Obama administration policy with the nation.
Johnson insists that the investigation is not designed to hurt Biden. Democrats have tried to distract from the suspicious conduct and say the committee should instead be focused on the coronavirus pandemic.
In August, Johnson issued a more than 5,000-word open letter in which he sought to defend his Biden probe.
“I felt it was important to provide this explanation of my investigations because of the concerted and coordinated attacks on my efforts that I have interpreted as a ‘brush back pitch’ to deter my actions and preemptively marginalize my committee’s findings,” Johnson wrote.
While most Senate Republicans have been on board with Johnson’s inquiry, Romney, has repeatedly made clear he has concerns about politicizing the committee’s work.
The former 2012 Republican presidential candidate had his strongest words yet for what he called the “Biden-Burisma” investigation at a committee meeting Wednesday, saying that the probe from the “outset had the earmarks of a political exercise.”
Romney added: “Obviously, it is the province of campaigns and political parties’ opposition research, the media, to carry out political endeavors, to learn about or dust up one’s opponent. But it’s not the legitimate role of government or Congress, or for taxpayer expense to be used in an effort to damage political opponents.”
Johnson did not respond to the comments. But he had earlier withdrawn from the meeting’s agenda a vote to authorize an additional subpoena in the probe, a move that Romney praised.
A committee aide said that the subpoena was withdrawn because the witness, Ambassador Bridget Brink, had agreed to testify voluntarily. The aide requested anonymity to discuss committee work taking place behind closed doors.
Hunter Biden has denied using his influence with his father to aid Burisma.
But Republicans have question whether the younger Biden’s highly paid job created a conflict of interest for Joe Biden as the former vice president worked on Ukraine policy in the Obama administration. Trump has frequently mentioned Hunter Biden’s activities on the campaign trail.
Johnson’s committee, along with the Senate Judiciary Committee, is also looking into the origins of the Justice Department’s Russia probe. The committee voted a second time to issue subpoenas in that investigation.
Adapted from reporting by Associated Press.