Washington — Republican Senator Ron Johnson, the chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, pulled a planned vote on a subpoena related to an investigation into Burisma Holdings, a Ukrainian gas firm that once employed Hunter Biden, while securing subpoenas targeting dozens of former Obama administration officials in a separate probe.
Utah Senator Mitt Romney, a Republican, criticized the investigation into Burisma as a "political exercise" during a committee meeting on Wednesday, after Johnson pulled the vote. Democrats have argued that Johnson and other Republicans are trying to undermine Joe Biden's presidential candidacy by probing his son's international business dealings. The subpoena would have required testimony from Bridget Brink, the U.S. ambassador to Slovakia, to discuss Burisma and "actual or apparent conflicts of interest with U.S.-Ukraine policy."
"Obviously it's 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 for Congress, or for taxpayer expense to be used in an effort to damage political opponents," Romney said. "Therefore I am pleased that our votes today do not include additional authorizations relating to the Biden/Burisma investigation."
However, the committee did authorize 40 subpoenas related to the investigation into the origins of Crossfire Hurricane, the FBI investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. The subpoenas require testimony from officials including former Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe and Justice Department official Bruce Ohr.
Romney said he believed it was important to issue the subpoenas relating to the FBI Russia investigation, in light of anreleased late last year which found several procedural errors in the probe.
"I will continue that support as long as it does not fall in the realm of rank political undertaking. I do believe it's very important that that the committees of Congress, and ours in particular, not fall into an increasing pattern that we're seeing, which is using taxpayer dollars and the power of Congress to do political work," Romney said.
Johnson was given blanket authority in a party-line vote in June to subpoena officials related to the FBI investigation. In August, heto FBI Director Christopher Wray for records related to the bureau's Russia probe.
Alan He contributed to this report.