The committee, which voted along party lines, is the second to authorize such subpoenas. Last week, the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee authorized its chairman to issue subpoenas as part of a separate inquiry into the origins of and issues with the same FBI investigation, which was codenamed Crossfire Hurricane.
The authorization covers the full range of records related to Crossfire Hurricane and names 53 specific witnesses, including top Obama administration officials such as FBI Director James Comey, CIA Director John Brennan, and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper.
The committee also authorized subpoenas for records from the Department of Justice inspector general’s review of the surveillance that took place as part of Crossfire Hurricane.
The FBI opened an investigation of the Trump campaign in late July 2016. The investigation eventually evolved into the special counsel probe of alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia; the special counsel found no evidence of collusion.
The investigation was fraught with irregularities, intense bias against Trump among key officials, and serious errors, as exposed by the inspector general, congressional inquiries, and Freedom of Information Act lawsuits.
As part of the inquiry into the Trump campaign, the FBI obtained a surveillance warrant to spy on Trump campaign associate Carter Page. The bureau’s applications for the warrant and three subsequent renewals included 17 serious errors and omissions. Key to the FBI’s decision to obtain the first warrant was a dossier of opposition research on Trump that was funded by Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign and the Democratic National Committee.
Democrats on the committee proposed a battery of amendments to the subpoena authorization, all of which were voted down by the Republican majority. Most of the amendments called for subpoenas of the many people scrutinized by the FBI and the special counsel as part of the Russia inquiry. Judiciary Committee Chairman Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) noted that the committee’s investigation is looking into the FBI and the Justice Department’s conduct, not that of the Russia investigation witnesses.
“All these people we’re talking about had their lives turned upside down, being surveilled by their own government, on tape saying, ‘I didn’t work with any Russians. I didn’t collude with the Russians. It would be treason,’” Graham said.
“So we’re going to get to the system that led to all this. Mr. Mueller had plenty of time to look at these people, and we’re going to start looking at the people who did the investigation.”
The Senate Homeland Security Committee will specifically focus on the activity of the Obama administration officials during the transition period between Donald Trump’s election and inauguration, according to Chairman Ron Johnson (R-Wisc.). Johnson said his committee will also call in witnesses who appear before the Judiciary Committee for follow-up questioning.
Graham noted that the committee may eventually call on witnesses involved in the investigation, prosecution, and trial of former national security adviser Michael Flynn. An appeals court in Washington was scheduled to hear arguments on the Flynn case on June 12.