Senate Republican: Coronavirus response has 'hampered' Hunter Biden investigation

Sen. Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonThe Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by The Air Line Pilots Association - White House moves closer to Pelosi on virus relief bill Second GOP senator to quarantine after exposure to coronavirus GOP-led panel to hear from former official who said Burisma was not a factor in US policy MORE (R-Wis.) said in a new interview that he is planning to release a status report on an investigation into Hunter Biden and Ukrainian gas company Burisma Holdings this summer, adding that the coronavirus pandemic has hampered his committee's efforts.

“We’re in the process of writing different sections of the report that I’d like to make public sometime this summer,” Johnson, the chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, told Politico. “But obviously, [the coronavirus] has not been helpful and hampered our efforts.” 

Johnson said committee staffers have been examining documents provided by the State Department and the National Archives. Some of the documents include information from the Obama White House, another central part of the investigation, according to the news outlet. 

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“I’ve got staff that have been devoted to that and they’re working on that stuff from home,” Johnson said.

“We — and I — can walk and chew gum at the same time here. This is not taking up massive amounts of staff time,” he added.

Johnson has also sought documents from Blue Star Strategies, a Democratic public affairs firm with ties to Burisma that has denied voluntarily turning over some files. 

Johnson was initially going to subpoena Andrii Telizhenko, a former consultant to the firm, but Sen. Gary PetersGary Charles PetersBiden promises Democratic senators help in battleground states Postal service changes delayed 7 percent of nation's first-class mail: Democratic report GOP votes to authorize subpoenas, depositions in Obama-era probe MORE (Mich.), the top Democrat on the Homeland Security Committee, objected to the move. The GOP lawmaker scheduled a committee vote for March 11, which he later canceled, citing “discrepancies” in briefings for committee members and staff. Johnson was then unable to force a committee vote before the Senate left town last month amid the pandemic.

Johnson has denied that the investigation is linked to the upcoming 2020 election, Politico noted. However, Democratic lawmakers have accused the probe of being politically motivated.

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Democrats have objected to the probe, saying that it could boost Russian disinformation efforts and even risk U.S. national security, the news outlet added. Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard BurrRichard Mauze BurrRep. Mark Walker says he's been contacted about Liberty University vacancy Overnight Defense: Trump rejects major cut to military health care | Senate report says Trump campaign's Russia contacts posed 'grave' threat Senate report describes closer ties between 2016 Trump campaign, Russia MORE (R-N.C.) also reportedly privately expressed concerns that the investigation could aid Russian efforts. 

Senators and aides cannot receive classified briefings or view sensitive documents unless they are at the Capitol.

GOP lawmakers had seized on discredited allegations that suggest former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenMomentum growing among Republicans for Supreme Court vote before Election Day Trump expects to nominate woman to replace Ginsburg next week Video of Lindsey Graham arguing against nominating a Supreme Court justice in an election year goes viral MORE tried to remove Ukrainian prosecutor Viktor Shokin while he was in office in an effort to protect his son. No evidence has shown that either Biden engaged in criminal wrongdoing.