Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wisc., suggested on Wednesday that some Republican members on his committee disagree with his decision to pursue an investigation into Obama-Gate and presidential candidate Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden.
Johnson, who chairs the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, was given broad subpoena authority earlier this summer.
The two major focal points in his probes are why the FBI began looking into alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, and whether Hunter Biden abused his father’s position to score business deals in Ukraine.
Both of them involve Democrats’ efforts to use the deep-state federal bureaucracy to undermine President Donald Trump—up to and including impeachment.
But with the controversies now seeming to be in the rear-view mirror after years of media sensationalism, Johnson admitted that not everyone in his party agreed that the investigations were necessary, and some may be preventing him from issuing the subpoenas.
“I wasn’t going to name names. There are legitimate concerns, and, again, I was happy to try to obtain these documents on a voluntary basis,” Johnson said, according to The Hill.
Romney—the only GOP senator to support Trump’s partisan impeachment—claimed Johnson’s committee has “more urgent priorities” it should focus on.
Portman agreed, arguing that Johnson’s subpoenas could distract Republicans from “the other things we have on our plate right now.”
Although Johnson declined to name names, several reports have signaled that it is Romney, once again, who is likely siding with Democrat committee members to deadlock the votes on any additional measures.
Sen. Jim Lankford, R-Okla., took to Twitter to denounce a report by Fox News’s Lou Dobbs that he, too, may be trying to thwart Johnson’s efforts.
Media, even Fox, should check their facts before they run stories.
— Sen. James Lankford (@SenatorLankford) August 13, 2020
Other Republicans have urged the chairman to “do everything I could to obtain the testimony and documents,” Johnson said, noting that his committee thus far had done its best to complete the work voluntarily, while avoiding the threat of subpoenas.
According to the authority his committee gave him when they approved the probes, Johnson has the power to do issue subpoenas without bringing them before a full committee vote.
But he claimed during an interview with conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt on Wednesday that he does still “need approval” from his fellow GOP committee members or he may risk losing their support elsewhere.
“I had a devil of a time just getting the subpoena authority that I got,” Johnson explained, noting that he didn’t want to push the envelope too quickly because there were “a number of my committee members that were highly concerned about how this looks politically.”
During the interview, Hewitt contested this claim and accused Johnson of deliberately throwing his colleagues under the bus.
I’ve asked my booking producer to invite @SenRonJohnson to come back tomorrow as this was not a “misunderstanding” but a transparent effort to blame his colleagues. It would be a service to them to explain to audience what the real story is.. https://t.co/C9T3tLMkOn https://t.co/yx5vhkNwTd
— Hugh Hewitt (@hughhewitt) August 12, 2020
In a statement, Johnson’s office clarified that he is “committed to running a thorough investigation into abuses by the Obama administration toward the Trump campaign,” but argued that he must do so the right way.
“Committee members want Chairman Johnson to attempt to get voluntary compliance, and also to be fully prepared for interviews by obtaining necessary documents, before compelling testimony,” Johnson’s spokesperson said.
Still, Johnson’s office said he is eager to see this investigation through one way or the other.
“Chairman Johnson has been working for months to gather documents and information from witnesses on a voluntary basis, but will subpoena witnesses when necessary – and as he has mentioned, his patience is wearing thin,” his spokesperson said.
Johnson’s probe is separate from a parallel criminal investigation being overseen in the Justice Department by special prosecutor John Durham, which also has interviewed some of the top players involved in the Russia hoax.
A report from Durham—along with possible indictments—is expected before Labor Day, although some have suggested that the proximity to the November election might also lead to claims of political abuse.
Liberty Headlines’ Ben Sellers contributed to this report.