Republicans on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee voted on Wednesday to greenlight subpoenas and depositions as part of an investigation into the FBI’s Russia probe and the Obama administration.
The 8-6 vote along party lines authorizes Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), the chairman of the committee, to issue a combination of subpoenas and set up closed-door depositions with approximately 40 individuals.
The vote comes less than two months before the November elections, injecting fresh acrimony into the Wednesday committee meeting where Johnson accused Democrats of a “coordinated smear” against his probes. Sen. Gary Peters (Mich.), the top Democrat on the panel, accused Republicans of a “partisan fishing expedition.”
“I’m disappointed that our committee is once again meeting to discuss the authorization of subpoenas instead ... of the serious challenges facing Americans,” Peters said. “Your own public comments ... state that your desire to reinvestigate these matters demonstrates the alarming partisan nature of this investigation, which is designed to influence the presidential election.”
The vote gives Johnson the power to set up depositions with dozens of officials he previously got authorization to subpoena in June.
Peters's efforts to delay the vote was defeated along party lines.
Those subpoenas ran into a snag in August, when Peters accused Johnson of violating the committee’s rules by trying to set up the interviews without support from Peters or a majority of the committee to formally issue the deposition notice.
Johnson blasted Peters on Wednesday, accusing him of forcing the vote to authorize the depositions “based on an absurd interpretation of committee rules.”
“Our investigation is focused on covering and revealing the truth, but Democrats seem intent at every turn to frustrate and interfere with our oversight efforts,” Johnson said.
Wednesday’s vote also authorizes subpoenas of seven new individuals, including former Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe and Justice Department official Bruce Ohr.
The vote is the latest sign that Johnson is preparing to ramp up his probe into the Obama administration, including the FBI’s investigation into Russia’s 2016 election meddling, even as he is expected to release an interim report on his Biden probe as soon as next week.
Johnson is running two investigations with Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee.
One broadly touches on the FBI's investigation of Russia's 2016 election interference, the transition between the Obama and Trump administrations and leaks from the early days of the Trump White House.
The second unrelated investigation deals with the State Department under former President Obama, Ukraine policy and the Bidens.
The committee had been expected to vote to give Johnson authorization to subpoena Bridget Brink, the U. S. ambassador to Slovakia, for questions related to Buri... (Read more)
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