Sen. Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyGOP senator will 'probably' vote for debt limit increase Five questions and answers about the debt ceiling fight Warren, Daines introduce bill honoring 13 killed in Kabul attack MORE (R-Utah) will vote to subpoena a former consultant linked to Burisma Holdings, as part of a GOP probe into Hunter Biden and the Ukraine gas company.
Liz Johnson, a spokeswoman for Romney, said Friday that he would support the subpoena — which is expected to request documents and an interview with former Blue Star Strategies consultant Andrii Telizhenko — during Wednesday's committee meeting after getting assurances from Sen. Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonLiberal group launches campaign urging Republicans to support Biden's agenda Domestic extremists return to the Capitol GOP senator: Buying Treasury bonds 'foolish' amid standoff over debt ceiling, taxes MORE (R-Wis.).
“Senator Romney has expressed his concerns to Chairman Johnson, who has confirmed that any interview of the witness would occur in a closed setting without a hearing or public spectacle. He will therefore vote to let the Chairman proceed to obtain the documents that have been offered," Johnson said.
Romney's support means Johnson, who chairs the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, is expected to have the simple majority on the panel needed to subpoena Telizhenko.
Romney's decision is a blow to Democrats, who have warned that Johnson could inadvertently help spread Russian misinformation or use the investigation to target former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenHouse clears bill to provide veterans with cost-of-living adjustment On The Money — Dems dare GOP to vote for shutdown, default To reduce poverty, stop burdening the poor: What Joe Manchin gets wrong about the child tax credit MORE as his presidential campaign has a burst of new momentum.
Sen. Gary PetersGary PetersHillicon Valley — Presented by Xerox — Democrats press FTC to resolve data privacy 'crisis' Democratic senator requests tech company policies on extremist content FreedomWorks misfires on postal reform MORE (Mich.), the top Democrat on the panel, said Thursday that he had not yet talked with Romney or other Republicans but that it was "possible" they could pick up bipartisan support for rejecting a subpoena.
"I'm sure they're evaluating the facts, like I evaluated the facts, and I'm sure they're also looking at a Homeland Security Committee that should be focused on the important issues related to defending our country," Peters said.
Because Peters is opposed to the subpoena, Johnson is having to win over a majority of his committee where Republicans hold a slim 8-6 advantage. Romney's opposition would have resulted in a 7-7 tie, if every Democrat also voted against it, resulting in the subpoena request failing.
Romney's decision comes as he's been publicly skeptical of the probe, telling reporters on Thursday that it appeared "political."
“There's no question but that the appearance of looking into Burisma and Hunter Biden appears political, and I think people are tired of these kind of political investigations,” Romney told reporters Thursday morning.
Romney and Johnson subsequently met in the Senate's Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility (SCIF) to discuss the probe and review information that Johnson has already collected.
Romney, after the meeting, still appeared skeptical, telling reporters that he was "considering" his vote and that "there's no question the appearance is not good."
“I would prefer that investigations are done by an independent, nonpolitical body," Romney added.
Republicans have questioned if Hunter Biden's work constituted a conflict of interest given his father's work on Ukraine during the Obama administration.
The former vice president has denied wrongdoing, and there is no evidence that either of the Bidens engaged in any criminal wrongdoing. Fact-checkers have also debunked claims that Biden was working with his son's interest in mind.
Johnson, asked about Romney's concerns that the probe appeared political, sidestepped the question on Thursday while also defending his decision to issue a subpoena.
"I don't see why anybody would object to getting information from a U.S. company that was engaged in certain lobbying efforts on behalf of a very corrupt oil and gas company in Ukraine," he said.