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GOP chairman to seek subpoena power in investigation of Russia probe, 'unmasking' requests

GOP chairman to seek subpoena power in investigation of Russia probe, 'unmasking' requests
© Greg Nash

Sen. Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonGraham: Trump will 'be helpful' to all Senate GOP incumbents Partisan headwinds threaten Capitol riot commission Cruz hires Trump campaign press aide as communications director MORE (R-Wis.) will force a vote next week on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee to decide whether he has the authority to issue subpoenas as part of his investigation into the FBI's probe of 2016 Russian election interference and the Trump campaign. 

Johnson, who chairs the panel, announced the committee vote for June 4. 

The committee will vote on a "motion to authorize the Chairman to issue subpoenas for records and testimony to U.S. Government agencies and to individuals relating to the Federal Bureau of Investigation's Crossfire Hurricane Investigation, the DOJ Inspector General's review of that investigation, and the 'unmasking' of U.S. persons affiliated with the Trump campaign, transition teams, and Trump Administration," according to the announcement of the vote. 

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A spokesman for Johnson said next week's vote would not be on individual subpoenas, but on giving the GOP senator subpoena issuing authority. 

Johnson's office released details on Thursday night of the subpoena authority the GOP senator is requesting, including wanting the power to subpoena dozens of individuals including former FBI director James ComeyJames Brien ComeyJohn Durham's endgame: Don't expect criminal charges Trump DOJ officials sought to block search of Giuliani records: report Tina Fey, Amy Poehler to host Golden Globes from separate coasts amid pandemic MORE, former national security advisor Susan Rice and former director of national intelligence James ClapperJames Robert ClapperThe biggest example of media malfeasance in 2020 is... Meet Biden's pick to lead the US intelligence community The new marshmallow media in the Biden era MORE.

"I am asking for this authority to ensure the committee has the ability to quickly and efficiently seek compulsory process should it become necessary," Johnson said, adding that he was scheduling the vote on the authorization "with the hope that subpoenas won’t be necessary."

Johnson is also requesting authorization to subpoena the FBI and State Department for documents related to the FBI's investigation into Russian election meddling and the Trump campaign, as well as the Justice Department Office of Inspector General for documents related to its review of surveillance warrant applications tied to former Trump campaign aide Carter Page.

Johnson is also requesting the authority to subpoena documents from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence related to attempts to "unmask" individuals tied to the Trump campaign, transition team or White House through January 2017.

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Johnson said earlier this month that he would investigate the probe into former national security advisor Michael Flynn, telling reporters that he had "suspected for quite some time that there was a concerted effort to sabotage this administration." Flynn was fired 2017 for misleading Vice President Pence about his conversations with then-Russian Ambassador to the U.S. Sergey Kislyak.

“Why were there people all over the place unmasking conversations that Michael Flynn was involved in? What other unmaskings occurred during that same time?” Johnson asked.

Under current committee rules, a subpoena can be issued either by an agreement with Sen. Gary PetersGary PetersDeJoy set for grilling by House Oversight panel Top cops deflect blame over Capitol attack Law enforcement officials lay out evidence Capitol riot was 'coordinated' attack MORE (Mich.), the panel's top Democrat, or by a majority vote. An aide for Peters told The Hill on Thursday afternoon that Johnson had not yet informed the committee who he was seeking to subpoena. 

Republicans are ramping up their investigations tied to the Obama administration as Trump prepares to face off against former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenHouse Democrats pass sweeping .9T COVID-19 relief bill with minimum wage hike Biden to hold virtual bilateral meeting with Mexican president More than 300 charged in connection to Capitol riot MORE, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, in November. 

Johnson's committee voted along party lines last week to issue a subpoena for Blue Star Strategies, a firm with ties to Ukraine gas company Burisma Holdings, as part of his investigation into Hunter Biden. 

The Senate Judiciary Committee, chaired by Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamOvernight Defense: Biden sends message with Syria airstrike | US intel points to Saudi crown prince in Khashoggi killing | Pentagon launches civilian-led sexual assault commission Graham: Trump will 'be helpful' to all Senate GOP incumbents John Boehner tells Cruz to 'go f--- yourself' in unscripted audiobook asides: report MORE (R-S.C.), will also hold a vote next Thursday on issuing subpoenas for dozens of officials — including former FBI Director James Comey, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and former national security adviser Susan Rice — as part of Graham's probe into "Crossfire Hurricane," the name of the FBI's investigation. 

The subpoena votes have sparked frustration with Democrats, who view the investigations as an attempt to go after Trump's political enemies and hunt for fodder against Biden ahead of November. 

Former Deputy Attorney General Rod RosensteinRod RosensteinRosenstein: Zero tolerance immigration policy 'never should have been proposed or implemented' Comey argues Trump shouldn't be prosecuted after leaving Oval Office Trump turns his ire toward Cabinet members MORE will also testify before the Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, marking Graham's first public hearing as part of his investigation. 

--Updated at 8:04 p.m.