Jun 4, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Senate panel grants authority to subpoena Obama officials in review of Russia probe

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wisc.)
Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wisc.). Photo: Samuel Corum/Getty Images

The Senate Homeland Security Committee voted 8-6 along party lines Wednesday to allow its chairman Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) to issue subpoenas to more than 35 individuals as part of a wide-ranging review of the origins of the Russia investigation.

The big picture: The sweeping authorization will allow Johnson, who is investigating the FBI's probe into Trump campaign and transition officials, to subpoena Obama administration officials like former FBI director James Comey, former CIA director John Brennan, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and more.

  • Johnson and Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who is leading his own committee's investigation into the Russia probe and alleged misconduct by FBI officials, have said they plan to issue reports before November's election.
  • Johnson is also leading an investigation into Hunter Biden and his work for Ukrainian energy company Burisma.
  • Democrats on both committees have accused Republicans of carrying out a politically motivated fishing expedition at a time when the U.S. is facing multiple crises.

The backdrop: The vote comes one day after the Judiciary Committee received testimony from former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein about his appointment of special counsel Robert Mueller and his approval of an application to continue surveillance on Carter Page, a former foreign-policy adviser to President Trump.

What to watch: The Judiciary Committee held a debate Thursday on authorizing subpoena power for Graham, but pushed back its vote until next week.

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