In a party-line, Republican members of the committee gave power to its president, Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), To force testimony from several current and former officials, including former FBI FBI Director James Comey and former Director of National Directions . James Clapper, who was involved in the transition process in 2016 and 2017 as well as investigated Russian interference in the 2016 election.
The authority means that Johnson will be able to foresee the threat of politically explosive subpoenas – against some witnesses Trump has repeatedly styled as hardliners – even after the congressional recess in October and elections rapidly come to a close Used to be.
After Johnson took down the Brink subpoena, Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) indicated that he might have voted against it, which would have effectively killed it. According to the assistant, the decision to scrap the Brink sub-vote was made independently according to opposition from Romney, who said that Brink agreed to testify voluntarily earlier this week and a sub-person Was not necessary.
Romney said the Biden investigation “has signs of a political practice,” citing “recent comments in the media” – a clear reference to Johnson’s recent public statements indicating that his investigation would reflect Biden’s prospects in the election . Romney also said that “the government does not have a legitimate role for Congress or for taxpayer spending, in an effort to harm political opponents.”
Johnson is preparing to issue an interim report in the coming days on that investigation, which investigates the role of Hunter Biden on the board of Ukrainian gas company Barism. There is no evidence that Joe Biden or his son was involved in any wrongdoing.
General Kamala Harris (D-California), the Democratic vice-presidential candidate, was not present for the vote, but was allowed to vote by proxy according to committee rules.
Democrats say the two investigated the amount of improper fishing expeditions targeting the party’s 2020 presidential candidate, Biden. He also said that Johnson’s investigation mirrors a Russian disinfection campaign. Johnson dismisses those allegations, calling it a “coordinated smear” against him.
“Our investigation is focused on exposing and revealing the truth, but Democrats reveal intentions at every turn to frustrate and interfere with no effort,” Johnson said, accusing Democrats of “subversive behavior.”
The committee’s action on Wednesday targets a number of high-profile individuals who have long been criticized by Trump and his associates, including former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, former Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew and more than two dozen others Who will receive statement notices.
Wednesday’s vote allows Johnson to issue subpoenas for the documents and testimony of former FBI top lawyers McCabe and James Baker, in addition to top judicial officers Bruce Ohr and Stephen Helper, who were informants for the FBI’s retaliation Targeted Trump. Campaign.
In the 2016 elections, Obama administration officials abused their rights as part of the investigation into the Russian election, in addition to allegations that they were subpoenas and statements related to Johnson’s investigation in 2016 and into the presidential transition period Notice. Last month, Johnson submitted to the FBI for documents related to that investigation.
Romney voted in favor of investigations related subpoenas and deposits targeting the actions of the Obama administration during the transition, clearing the way.
The final vote, which was eventually scrapped on Wednesday, centered on Johnson’s investigation into claims that a Democratic public-relations firm sought to influence the Obama-era State Department by taking advantage of Hunter Biden’s role on Barism’s board. Had.
The committee sought to question “Brink about the actual or apparent conflict with Burma Holdings and US-Ukraine policy”, according to a copy of the committee’s agenda obtained by Politko.
The committee has already put Blue Star Strategies, a Democratic public-relations firm, into consideration.
Michigan Sen. Gary Peters, the committee’s top Democrat, sent a letter to Johnson on Monday, formally objecting to the proposed bylaws and statements, accusing Johnson of promoting Trump’s re-election effort. Use the authority of the Senate Committee.
“You persist in this course of action despite the fact that you are deliberately advancing the defamatory claims that our own intelligence community has warned is part of a Russian attack on our democracy,” Peters wrote, President The investigation into the transition process duplicated “the ongoing review of the Senate Judiciary Committee and similar investigations that have already been completed, including the Inspector General of the Department of Justice.
“Despite my warnings and the assessment of our own intelligence community, you continue to use the committee as a tool for an anti-foreign attack on our democracy,” Peters said.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (DN.Y.) announced Wednesday that he was “calling for an end to any Senate investigation or activity that allowed Congress to act as a conduit for Russian information” gives.”
“While the rest of the country is focused on fighting the global epidemic, for the past few months, the committee’s president and Republican have wasted taxpayer resources to run a hit job on President Trump’s political rival,” Shumma said. Shumar said.
Johnson has denied that his investigation has anything to do with the election, but he recently told a radio host that his investigation would “definitely help Donald Trump win again and certainly Would be great, I would say, evidence about not voting Vice President Biden. ”
And earlier this week, Johnson said: “Stay tuned. In about a week, we’re going to learn more about Vice President Biden’s fitness for office.”
Many of Johnson’s claims have been made by pro-Russian jurist Andrei Derkach, who was just approved by the Treasury Department for election intervention. Derkach sent packets of information about Biden to Johnson, but Johnson’s office denied that the senator had received anything from Derkach.
Declaring the sanctions, the Treasury Department called Durkach a Russian agent and said he had a covert impact campaign focused on cultivating false and unfounded statements regarding US officials in the upcoming 2020 presidential election, which Ukraine and United The state is investigating corruption in the US. Designed to end before election day. “
The committee has been briefed on several occasions related to attempts by foreign actors to interfere in elections. The FBI’s Foreign Influence Task Force told committee colleagues earlier this year that there is a former diplomat pushing unfounded claims about Ukrainian interference in the 2016 election. Shortly after that briefing, Johnson rescinded a planned committee vote to issue subgenas to Telepenko after expressing unhappiness about the former diplomat.
Johnson has faced criticism from all sides as he pursues the investigation – from Trump aides who believe he is not aggressive enough and Democrats who say his actions are hurting US national security. In addition, POLITICO reported in August that the CIA is refusing to give information to its committee amid deep suspicion of intelligence officials from the Biden investigation.
Kyle Cheney contributed to this report.