GOP senators on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee may be holding up subpoenas for former FBI Director James Comey, former CIA Director John Brennan, and other figures who were involved in the investigation into President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign, said Chairman Ron Johnson (R-Wis.).
“We had a number of my committee members that were highly concerned about how this looks politically,” the Wisconsin GOP senator told radio host Hugh Hewitt. He was asked by Hewitt to identify those Republicans by name.
But Johnson said, “I’m just not going to be naming names that way.” Johnson had been pressing to issue the subpoenas for the former Obama administration officials.
Johnson’s committee authorized him in early June to issue subpoenas as part of the inquiry into the FBI’s investigation of Trump’s campaign.
In the interview, Johnson said that he needs the support of eight Republicans to advance subpoenas in the case.
Johnson emphasized that he needs the unanimous support of his committee’s eight Republicans to advance any subpoenas—one defection would likely result in a 7-7 deadlock with the committee’s six Democrats. “If I lose one, I lose the vote,” Johnson said.
The Republicans currently on the panel include Sens. Rob Portman (Ohio), Rand Paul (Ky.), James Lankford (Okla.), Mitt Romney (Utah), Rick Scott (Fla.), Michael Enzi (Wyo.), and Josh Hawley (Mo.).
A spokesperson for Johnson later told Politico that Johnson’s exchange with Hewitt was a misunderstanding, saying that he is “committed to running a thorough investigation.”
“Committee members want Chairman Johnson to attempt to get voluntary compliance, and also to be fully prepared for interviews by obtaining necessary documents, before compelling testimony,” the spokesman told the website. “Chairman Johnson has been working for months to gather documents and information from witnesses on a voluntary basis, but will subpoena witnesses when necessary—and as he has mentioned, his patience is wearing thin.”
On Tuesday, Johnson told Fox News that he subpoenaed FBI Director Christopher Wray as part of the committee’s review of the Russia investigation.
“Certainly my committee granted me the subpoena authorization to try and get everybody’s voluntary compliance, but it simply hasn’t worked,” he said on the channel. “The FBI continues to slow-walk our requests for documents, which really date back years.”
An investigation into the origins of the Russia investigation, where FBI agents investigated Trump’s campaign on alleged collusion with Russian agents, is being carried out by the Senate Judiciary Committee led by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.). The investigation was carried out by former special prosecutor Robert Mueller, who found that there was no evidence Trump coordinated and cooperated with the Kremlin.
Correction: This article has been updated to reflect Johnson’s clarification on the matter.