Sen. Ron Johnson, chair of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. Photo: Samuel Corum/Getty Images

The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee approved a subpoena along party lines Wednesday for documents relating to Hunter Biden and his work for Ukrainian energy company Burisma, the Washington Post reports.

Why it matters: The State Department said in 2014 that there was no conflict, noting Hunter Biden was a "private citizen." Democrats argue that the Republican-led probe is designed to damage President Trump's likely opponent Joe Biden ahead of November's election, and the committee's top Democrat,

  • Sen. Gary Peters (D-Mich.) has even suggested that the probe is aiding a Russian disinformation campaign.

Blue Star Strategies, the consulting firm that worked with Burisma while Hunter Biden was on the board, sent a letter to committee chairman Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) on Wednesday stating that they have sought to cooperate at every step and are "puzzled" by the vote to proceed with the subpoena.

  • Johnson disagreed, telling reporters that "it's way too late in the game. The only reason [Blue Star] even began talking to us again is because of the threat of subpoena."
  • Johnson said he hopes to release an interim report on the investigation before the August recess.

The backdrop: Hunter Biden began serving on the board of Burisma in 2014 and was paid as much as $50,000 per month, according to the NY Times.

  • Joe Biden was the Obama administration's point man on Ukraine, and his son's position on the board raised conflict-of-interest concerns at the time.
  • President Trump's efforts to pressure Ukraine to investigate the Bidens and Burisma culminated in his impeachment and subsequent Senate acquittal in January.

Between the lines: The president's re-election team has been planning to make Hunter Biden's work with Burisma an election-year issue by tying it to Joe Biden's vice presidency, Axios' Alayna Treene reports.

  • It comes as the Senate Judiciary Committee led by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) is also conducting a review of the origins of the Russia probe, another politically sensitive investigation that Graham says will be completed by October.

Go deeper: Biden promises restrictions on Hunter, family if elected

Editor's note: Moves up reference to State Department investigation.

Go deeper

Aug 28, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Trump casts Biden as vessel for "wild-eyed Marxists" in 70-minute RNC speech

Addressing a packed crowd on the White House South Lawn Thursday night, President Trump accepted the GOP nomination in a speech that painted Joe Biden as a "Trojan horse for socialism" who will not have "the strength to stand up to wild-eyed Marxists like Bernie Sanders and his fellow radicals."

Why it matters: "This is the most important election in the history of our country," Trump said in a refrain that Joe Biden and the Democratic Party have also stressed. "There has never been such a difference between two parties, or two individuals, in ideology, philosophy, or vision than there is right now."

House committee launches contempt proceedings against Pompeo

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Photo: Mike Segar/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

The House Foreign Affairs Committee announced Friday that it will launch contempt proceedings against Secretary of State Mike Pompeo over his refusal to comply with a subpoena for records related to the State Department's involvement in attempts to link Joe Biden to corruption in Ukraine.

Why it matters: Democrats on the committee say that Pompeo gave similar documents to Senate Republicans, alleging he has undertaken a "transparently political misuse of Department resources" and shown "an unprecedented record of obstruction and defiance of the House’s constitutional oversight authority."

Biden responds to Pence speech: The violence is in "Trump’s America"

Biden in Wilmington, Delaware, on Aug. 20. Photo: Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Joe Biden issued a statement Thursday rebuking Vice President Mike Pence for claiming in his RNC speech that "you won’t be safe in Joe Biden’s America," referencing Black Lives Matter protests and unrest in Kenosha, Wisconsin, over the police shooting of Jacob Blake.

The big picture: Trump and Pence are running on a "law and order" message amid nationwide unrest, and Republicans have relentlessly attacked Biden for what they claim has been a failure to denounce violent protests. Biden said unequivocally in his Thursday statement: "There is no place for violence, looting or burning. None. Zero."