With very little fanfare, Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI), chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, has spent the past several months quietly looking into the dubious business arrangement involving a corrupt Ukrainian energy firm called Burisma Holdings and Hunter Biden, son of former Vice President Joe Biden.
Johnson recently revealed that he’s ready to take his probe to the next level by issuing subpoenas, and while fellow committee member Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) initially signaled his opposition to the investigation, he now appears to be on board after a private meeting with Johnson, The Hill reported.
Subpoena sought in Burisma–Biden probe
At issue in Johnson’s probe is whether there was a conflict of interest, if not something even worse, inherent in the fact that Hunter Biden served in a lucrative position on the board of Burisma at the same time that Joe Biden was the Obama administration’s go-to guy on Ukraine.
To that end, Johnson has prepared to force a committee vote authorizing a subpoena for documents and testimony from Andrii Telizhenko, who formerly worked for a U.S.-based firm known as Blue Star Strategies that provided various consulting services for Burisma at the same time Biden served on the board, and who is reportedly willing to cooperate if he is subpoenaed.
Initially, Romney sided with Democrats on the committee in opposition to the requested subpoena of Telizhenko, and given the fact that Republicans only have an 8-6 majority in the committee, Romney’s vote is crucial to authorizing the subpoena.
In signaling his prior opposition to the subpoena vote, Romney told reporters on Thursday, “There’s no question but that the appearance of looking into Burisma and Hunter Biden appears political, and I think people are tired of these kind of political investigations.”
Romney changes tune
However, Romney later met privately with Johnson in the Senate’s Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility (SCIF) to discuss the probe and to review the confidential documents Johnson had already procured.
Though Romney still expressed some skepticism about the appearance of politicized investigations following that meeting, it nonetheless appeared that Johnson had been convincing enough to garner Romney’s support for moving forward with his planned subpoena.
On Friday, Romney spokeswoman Liz Johnson said in a statement to the media, “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.”
Key unanswered questions
Meanwhile, in response to a question from reporters about Romney’s earlier reticence, Sen. Johnson said, “I don’t see why anybody would object to getting information from a U.S. company that was engaged in certain lobbying efforts on behalf of a very corrupt oil and gas company in Ukraine.”
And that right there gets to the crux of the matter — why was a U.S. company lobbying the U.S. government on behalf of a corrupt Ukrainian firm that employed the son of a sitting vice president at the same time that vice president was in charge of matters likely to have a direct impact on the company on whose board his son sat?
Odds are, the answers to that and other questions won’t look good for the Bidens, hence the full-court press by Democrats and the media to shut down any further inquiry in that direction, whether it be from the president, the Senate, or intrepid independent journalists.