GOP senator blocks Schumer resolution aimed at Biden probe as tensions run high

GOP Sen. Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonThe Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by Facebook - Trump previews SCOTUS nominee as 'totally brilliant' The Hill's 12:30 Report: Ginsburg lies in repose CHC leaders urge Senate to oppose Chad Wolf nomination  MORE (Wis.) on Wednesday blocked a Democratic resolution aimed at his investigation involving Democratic presidential nominee Joe BidenJoe BidenFormer Pence aide: White House staffers discussed Trump refusing to leave office Progressive group buys domain name of Trump's No. 1 Supreme Court pick Bloomberg rolls out M ad buy to boost Biden in Florida MORE and his son Hunter Biden in the latest sign of tensions over the probe.

Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerPelosi slams Trump executive order on pre-existing conditions: It 'isn't worth the paper it's signed on' 3 reasons why Biden is misreading the politics of court packing Cruz blocks amended resolution honoring Ginsburg over language about her dying wish MORE (D-N.Y.) and Senate Finance Committee ranking member Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenHillicon Valley: Subpoenas for Facebook, Google and Twitter on the cards | Wray rebuffs mail-in voting conspiracies | Reps. raise mass surveillance concerns On The Money: Anxious Democrats push for vote on COVID-19 aid | Pelosi, Mnuchin ready to restart talks | Weekly jobless claims increase | Senate treads close to shutdown deadline Democratic senators ask inspector general to investigate IRS use of location tracking service MORE (D-Ore.) tried to pass a resolution urging senators "to immediately cease any activities that allow Congress to act as a conduit" for election interference efforts or Russian disinformation. 

The resolution was a shot at an investigation being conducted by Johnson's Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee and Sen. Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyGOP lawmakers distance themselves from Trump comments on transfer of power The Hill's 12:30 Report: Ginsburg lies in repose Top GOP senators say Hunter Biden's work 'cast a shadow' over Obama Ukraine policy MORE's (R-Iowa) Finance Committee that Democrats say is a partisan attack on the former vice president being pushed by Russia.


Schumer, from the floor, accused Johnson of an "ongoing effort to disparage the former vice president and his family."

"There's a dark similarity here to the Republican effort in the House ... to discredit the Democratic presidential candidate with the Select Committee on Benghazi," Schumer added.

Wyden, whose staff has been taking part in some of the closed-door interviews as part of the GOP probe, noted that so far he has seen no evidence that "could lead to the conclusion that Vice President Biden did anything wrong in Ukraine. What I have seen is a months-long investigation that still has no legitimate basis burning through an incredible amount of manpower and taxpayer-funded resources."

The resolution references Ukrainian parliamentarian Andriy Derkach, who is accused of spreading Russian disinformation to undermine Biden. Johnson has repeatedly said his committee has not taken information from Derkach.

The floor drama is the latest sign of growing frustration over the Republican probe.


Schumer and Johnson were both warned about the Senate's Rule 19, which requires that no senator while speaking from the floor "directly or indirectly by any form of words impugn to another senator or to other senators any conduct or motive unworthy or unbecoming a senator."  

Johnson and Grassley are months into two investigations. 

One broadly touches on the FBI's probe 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.

Republicans on the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee voted earlier on Wednesday to give Johnson authorization to subpoena or depose roughly 40 individuals as part of the first investigation. 

Johnson, speaking from the Senate floor, argued that remarks from Schumer and Wyden, if not violations of the Senate's rules, are "coming pretty close."  

"I would ask the American people to take a look at what has been happening here. The false allegations, the basic playbook Democrats engage in time and time again create a false narrative," he said. "That is what's happening here. I personally am tired of it."