Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI), chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, called off a scheduled Wednesday vote to subpoena a former Ukrainian politician as part of his Burisma-Biden investigation.
“Out of an abundance of caution, and to allow time for you to receive additional briefings, I will postpone a vote to subpoena records and an appearance from former Blue Star Strategies consultant Andrii Telizhenko about his work for the lobbying firm,” Johnson told committee members, according to The Hill.
Rather than impel testimony and documents from Telizhenko, the Wisconsin Republican could instead place Blue Star Strategies in his committee’s sights. The firm was previously hired by Burisma, a Ukrainian energy giant, to assist with allegations of corruption.
In 2014, Burisma appointed Hunter Biden, the youngest son of former Vice President Joe Biden, to its board of directors. The board appointment coincided with the elder Biden serving as the Obama administration’s point person for Ukraine and as Burisma’s chief executive officer stood accused of money laundering. Hunter was paid a handsome $83,000 monthly to serve on the board despite his lack of expertise in the oil and gas industry.
“While we work through those questions, at the suggestion of both Republican and Democrat Committee members, we will instead go straight to the source and compel the same records and an appearance directly from Blue Star Strategies,” Johnson said.
Hunter Biden’s ties to Burisma have become a flashpoint in the 2020 presidential election.
In an interview last week on Fox News Channel’s Hannity, President Donald Trump said he would continue to target Biden over the his son’s ties to Burisma. “That will be a major issue in the campaign. I will bring that up all the time, because I don’t see any way out. I don’t see any way — for them, I don’t see how they can answer those questions. And maybe they can. I hope they can,” the president told host Sean Hannity. “I’d actually prefer it that they can. But I don’t believe they’ll be able to answer those questions. That was purely corrupt.”
Senate Democrats have accused Johnson of carrying out the investigation into Burisma to damage Biden’s election prospects, despite the fact that the probe was launched nearly a year ago.
“This investigation should not be part of what we’re doing in Homeland Security,” said Sen. Gary Peters (D-MI), the committee’s ranking Democrat. “There are too many other important issues that impact the security of our country, like coronavirus and cyberattacks.”
Joining Democrats in criticizing the probe was Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT), who said he preferred “any interview of the witness would occur in a closed setting without a hearing or public spectacle.”
Days later, the only Republican senator to convict President Trump in the upper chamber’s impeachment trial said he would ultimately vote in favor of the subpoena for Telizhenko. “Senator Romney has expressed his concerns to Chairman Johnson, who has confirmed that any interview of the witness would occur in a closed setting without a hearing or public spectacle. He will therefore vote to let the Chairman proceed to obtain the documents that have been offered,” Romney spokesperson Liz Johnson said in a statement.