Senate approves subpoenas of Obama officials in Russian collusion probe
The Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday authorized chairman Lindsey Graham to issue a wide range of subpoenas as part of its investigation into the origins of the Russia probe and allegations of wrongdoing by top Obama-era officials.
In a 12-10 vote along party lines, the panel’s move is a dramatic escalation of its investigation into the FBI and Justice Department’s handling of the Trump-Russia collusion probe during the 2016 presidential election.
The subpoenas would cover testimony from former FBI Director James Comey, FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, ex-National Intelligence Director James Clapper, former CIA Director John Brennan and former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates and others.
It would also cover documents, communications and testimony from top FBI and Justice Department officials James Baker, Bruce Ohr, Lisa Page, Peter Strozk and Bill Pirestrap
Mr. Graham, South Carolina Republican, said the subpoenas were necessary to get to the bottom of why special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe moved forward when it was clear there was no evidence President Trump or members of his campaign had colluded with Russia.
“I think we need to look long and hard at how the Mueller investigation got off the rails,” he said.
But Democrats accused Mr. Graham of reviving the Mueller probe in an attempt to influence voters’ views of the Obama administration, where presumed 2020 Democratic presidential nominee Joseph R. Biden served as Vice President.
“Never has a chairman devoted the full weight of this committee’s resources to pursue a wholly partisan investigation after being prompted by a presidential campaign,” said Patrick Leahy, Vermont Democrat.
Democrats also blasted Mr. Graham for reviving the Russia probe, saying the committee should be focused on police use of force and the aftermath of George Floyd’s death.
“Rather than do something about this crisis we are going to go over ground that has already been covered,” said Maize Hirono, Hawaii Democrat.
In a bid to upend the subpoena vote, Democrats sought to add a series of amendments to compel testimony and documents from President Trump’s allies.
Among the individuals who Democrats want to be subpoenaed are former Trump fixer Michael Cohen, former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, Mr. Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, Rudy Giuliani and former national security adviser Michael Flynn.
“We have given you opportunities and will continue to this morning to bring in relevant witnesses,” said Sen. Dick Durbin, Illinois Democrat. “The fact that you are turning down every single relevant witness tells us and tells the world this is an irrelevant investigation.”
Mr. Graham clapped back that Trump associates had already been heavily scrutinized during the Mueller probe.
“I don’t understand why you would want to do the Mueller investigation all over again after we’ve two-and-half years and $25 million dollars doing it,” he said. “I’m sorry it didn’t turn out the way people liked but it is behind us and how we are going to look at what happened and the misconduct involved and hold people accountable.”
The amendments were routinely defeated in a series of partisan votes.
Under committee rules, Mr. Graham cannot unilaterally issue a subpoena. The committee chairman can only issue a subpoena with the consent of the ranking member or by a committee vote.