National Security

Ron Johnson vows to force Burisma-related subpoena vote amid Dem opposition

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) indicated on Monday that he will move forward with a vote this week on a subpoena related to his probe into Hunter Biden and Ukrainian gas company Burisma Holdings despite push back from Democrats.

Johnson, the chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, sent a letter to Sen. Gary Peters (D-Mich.) accusing him of using concerns about Russian election interference as a “boogie man” to oppose a subpoena for documents from an interview with former Blue Star Strategies consultant Andrii Telizhenko.

“We have conducted our investigations methodically, responsibly, and largely out of public view,” Johnson wrote in the letter, which was released on Monday. “We have gone to great lengths to receive briefings and review and verify all information received by the Committee before making any of it public.

“Unfortunately, you did object [to the subpoena] and continue to use ‘disinformation efforts by Russia’ as a boogie man to justify opposition to this narrow subpoena involving records associated with a U.S.-based lobbying firm,” Johnson added.

Johnson’s response is the latest back-and-forth between the GOP chairman and Peters, the committee’s ranking member, ahead of the committee’s subpoena vote, which is scheduled for Wednesday. With Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) announcing on Friday that he will support the subpoena, Johnson is expected to have enough votes to issue it over opposition from Democrats on the committee.

Peters sent a letter late last week requesting that the committee get a classified briefing before it votes on whether or not to subpoena Telizhenko.

“This is a matter of national security, and our committee members must have the opportunity to get classified updates from our law enforcement and intelligence community experts to prevent the committee from being used to advance information that could benefit foreign adversaries and undermine the integrity of our elections,” Peters wrote in the letter.

Peters also noted in his letter that staff from the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, Finance Committee and Judiciary Committee previously had an unclassified call with the FBI “to address concerns about interacting with” Telizhenko.

The FBI, according to both Peters and Johnson, agreed to hold a classified follow-up where it would field additional questions. But Johnson, in his letter to Peters, said that “to my knowledge, your staff never contacted those individuals” to set up the subsequent meeting.

A Peters aide called Johnson’s letter inaccurate because Democratic committee staff requested the classified briefing during the call.

“The Chairman is asking the full committee to vote on this, so the full committee needs to be briefed in a classified setting by both FBI and Intelligence Community experts. Ranking Member Peters has been asking the Chairman to help convene those briefings since December,” the aide said.

“There is absolutely no reason for the Chairman to move forward with this vote before the entire committee is briefed — especially given the risk that the committee could be used to advance disinformation or election interference efforts that are meant to undermine our national security,” the aide added.

Johnson and Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), the chairman of the Finance Committee, are months into a broad investigation, part of which touches on Hunter Biden’s work on the board of Burisma. In a letter sent earlier this year to the U.S. Secret Service, they said they were also “reviewing potential conflicts of interest posed by the business activities of Hunter Biden and his associates during the Obama administration.”

Republicans, including President Trump, have seized on a discredited narrative questioning if former Vice President Joe Biden tried to remove Ukrainian prosecutor Viktor Shokin in an effort to protect his son. No evidence has indicated that either of the Bidens engaged in criminal wrongdoing, and there was widespread concern at the time both internationally and from a bipartisan coalition in Congress about corruption within Shokin’s office.

—Updated at 3:52 p.m.

Tags Blue Star Burisma Burisma Holdings Burisma Holdings Chuck Grassley Chuck Grassley Donald Trump Donald Trump Gary Peters Hunter Biden Joe Biden Mitt Romney Ron Johnson Trump–Ukraine controversy Viktor Shokin

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