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Senate panel approves more subpoenas for probe into FBI's Russia investigation

September 16, 2020. Summarized by summa-bot.

The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee approved another round of subpoenas Wednesday for depositions to dozens of officials from the Obama administration as part of the panel's investigation into the FBI's 2016 Russia investigation.

(CNN)The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee approved another round of subpoenas Wednesday for depositions to dozens of officials from the Obama administration as part of the panel's investigation into the FBI's 2016 Russia investigation.

The subpoenas approved on a party-line vote Wednesday were separate from the panel's investigation into a Ukrainian energy firm and former Vice President Joe Biden, which Homeland Security Chairman Ron Johnson has said he plans to release soon.

But Democrats have accused Johnson, a Wisconsin Republican, of using both investigations to try to smear Trump's opponents ahead of the election -- and advance a narrative pushed by Russian-linked operatives to denigrate Biden.

Johnson has said he soon plans to release the findings from the GOP-led investigation into Ukrainian energy firm Burisma, Biden and his son Hunter Biden, who was on Burisma's board.

Johnson defended the panel's investigations at Wednesday's committee meeting.

The panel's ranking Democrat, Sen. Gary Peters of Michigan, charged Wednesday that Johnson's investigations were "designed to influence the presidential election. " Biden campaign spokesman Andrew Bates said Johnson had "admitted the true purpose of this sham: to bail out Donald Trump's reelection campaign. "

Sen. Mitt Romney, a Utah Republican on the panel, has expressed reservations about Johnson's Ukraine investigation being a political endeavor.

He voted in favor of the subpoenas on Wednesday, but made a point to note the differences between the investigation into the FBI's Russia probe that's looking into the opening of the investigation and "unmasking" requests made in the Obama administration, and the Ukraine investigation that's targeting Biden.

The committee was planning to issue a subpoena to an Obama-era State Department official, Bridget Brink, who is now US Ambassador to Slovakia, but Johnson said on Tuesday that interview was scheduled voluntarily.

A person familiar with the investigation said Obama administration State Department official Amos Hochstein is also slated to be interviewed by the committee on Thursday.

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