Jun 11, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Senate Judiciary gives Graham sweeping subpoena powers in review of Russia probe

Sen. Lindsey Graham.

Sen. Lindsey Graham. Photo: Andrew Harnik/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

The Senate Judiciary Committee voted 12-10 along party lines Thursday to allow its chair, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), to subpoena former Obama administration officials as part of the GOP-led probe into the origins of the 2016 Russia investigation.

Why it matters: Graham now has sweeping authority to subpoena documents and more than 50 individuals related to the Russia investigation, including former FBI director James Comey, former CIA director John Brennan and former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper.

  • The Senate Homeland Security Committee, which is also investigating the FBI's probe into the Trump campaign and transition officials, approved similar subpoena powers for its chair, Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), last week.

Judiciary Committee Democrats argued that Thursday's broad authorization removed the minority party's ability to approve individual subpoenas, calling it unprecedented and accusing Republicans of a fishing expedition to help President Trump ahead of the election.

  • Democrats also argued the probe is unnecessary because Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz investigated the origins of the Russia investigation in 2019.
  • Democratic attempts to amend the resolution to subpoena Rudy Giuliani, Jared Kushner, Paul Manafort and other Trump associates were all rejected on party lines.

Republican members, including Graham, are especially focused on errors that Horowitz uncovered in the FBI's applications for wiretaps of former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page, demanding they be investigated further.

  • "I assure you, we're not going to be deterred," Graham said at Thursday's hearing. "If we have to do it by ourselves, we'll do it by ourselves. ... I want to know why all these counterintelligence investigations were opened to begin with."

The big picture: Johnson and Graham have said they plan to issue reports before November's election. The Justice Department is also conducting a sweeping criminal investigation led by veteran prosecutor John Durham, which Attorney General Bill Barr has signaled could result in indictments filed before the election.

  • Johnson is also heading a probe into Joe Biden's son, Hunter Biden, and his work for Ukrainian energy company Burisma.

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