Sep 19, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Engel drops subpoena against Pompeo after receiving records on Hunter Biden probe

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 16.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 16. Photo: Nicholas Kamm/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, withdrew a subpoena and contempt threat against Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Friday, after the State Department gave the committee more than 16,000 pages of records related to a probe into Hunter Biden's work for Ukrainian energy company Burisma.

Why it matters: House Democrats sought the documents to understand the direction of the Senate Homeland Security Committee's investigation into Hunter Biden led by Chairman Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), who plans to release a report on the investigation before the election.

  • Some Democrats have accused Johnson of leading an overtly political investigation.
  • Sen. Mitt Romney (Utah) criticized his Republican colleagues on the Homeland Security Committee this week for the probe into Hunter Biden, saying it has the "earmarks of a political exercise."

Context: Immediately after Trump's acquittal in the Senate impeachment trial this February, Sens. Chuck Grassley and Johnson announced a review of "potential conflicts of interest posed by the business activities of Hunter Biden and his associates during the Obama administration."

  • Engel claimed Pompeo blocked his committee from obtaining documents as part of the review that had previously been given to Senate Republicans investigating Joe and Hunter Biden and ignored oversight requests from his House committee.
  • Engel also accused Pompeo of misusing agency resources to aid an investigation "obviously designed to boost the President's campaign and tear down his opponent," Joe Biden.

What they're saying: "It shouldn't have taken a subpoena, let alone the threat of contempt, for Secretary Pompeo to comply with the Committee's oversight request," Engel wrote.

  • "Nevertheless, I'm gratified that we've received these materials and can review them before Senate Republicans issue their report. This 'investigation' is obviously designed to boost the President's campaign and tear down his opponent, while our own Intelligence Community warns it is likely to amplify Russian disinformation."
  • "We're going to make sure the American people see the whole picture, not just cherrypicked information aimed at breathing new life into debunked conspiracy theories."

The big picture: The State Department said in 2014 there was no conflict in Hunter Biden's position on Burisma's board of directors, noting he was a "private citizen."

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