Senate Panel to Vote on Subpoena Power in Investigation of Russia Probe

By Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber is a senior reporter for The Epoch Times based in Maryland. He covers U.S. and world news.
May 28, 2020Updated: May 28, 2020

A Senate committee will vote next week on whether to give Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) authority to issue subpoenas for records and testimony relating to Crossfire Hurricane, the FBI’s probe of 2016 Russian election interference and the Trump campaign.

Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs members will vote June 4 in Washington, according to a newly released agenda.

If authorized, Johnson, the committee’s chairman, also will be able to issue subpoenas for information or appearances of individuals relating to the unmasking, or revealing of identities, of U.S. citizens affiliated with Trump’s campaign, his transition teams, and the president’s administration.

Johnson and ranking member Gary Peters (D-Mich.) didn’t immediately respond to requests by The Epoch Times for comment. Johnson hasn’t said which officials he wants to call to testify.

The Senate Judiciary Committee will vote at the same time on the same date on authorizing subpoenas for records on the Crossfire Hurricane probe.

Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) announced that vote earlier this month. He said he wants to subpoena former Obama administration officials, including James Comey, the former FBI director, and James Clapper, the former director of national intelligence.

Epoch Times Photo
Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper in a file photograph. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Because Republicans control the Senate, they control and hold majorities on each committee. Chairs can’t issue subpoenas without consent of the ranking member or by a committee vote.

The votes will come one day after Rod Rosenstein, a former deputy attorney general who appointed special counsel Robert Mueller, appears before Graham’s committee to answer questions from lawmakers.

If subpoena power is authorized, Johnson and Graham can issue subpoenas for witnesses, documents, or other materials. According to the Senate Judiciary Committee, subpoena authorization votes aren’t common.

Graham is seeking documents referenced in Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s report into Crossfire Hurricane, which found a series of errors in the FBI’s spy applications against Trump campaign associate Carter Page, including mismanagement of informants.

Graham named a slew of officials he wants to hear from or obtain communications or documents from, including FBI agent E.W. “Bill” Priestap, Attorney General William Barr, and Susan Rice, the former national security adviser. He added a caveat during an interview on “The Hugh Hewitt Show” this week, saying: “I can’t get in the way of a Durham investigation. So, he has first dibs on any witness.”

U.S. Attorney John Durham is conducting a criminal probe into the origins of the Trump–Russia investigation.

lindsey graham goes into isolation
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) in the Senate subway area of the Capitol in Washington on Feb. 4, 2020. (Charlotte Cuthbertson/The Epoch Times)

Johnson teamed with Senate Finance Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) in requesting, and obtaining, a declassified list of Obama administration officials who requested to unmask a U.S. citizen that turned out to be Michael Flynn. At the time the requests were made, in late 2016 or early 2017, Flynn was Trump’s incoming national security adviser.

“I’ve always felt that there has been a concerted effort to sabotage this administration and it began the day after the election when, according to these folks, the wrong person won,” Johnson said during an appearance on Fox News’ “America’s Newsroom.”

Despite the FBI knowing there wasn’t evidence of collusion between Trump’s campaign and Russia, Johnson added, “Comey engineered the appointment of a special counsel and put this country through this constitutional crisis over the last two or three years and, unfortunately, hampered this administration to a great extent.”

Johnson also pushed for, and got, the declassification of a block of text from an email Rice sent to herself on the same day Trump was sworn into office.

Johnson and Grassley asked the director of national intelligence and Barr last week for information on the unmasking of Americans linked to Trump’s campaign dating back as far as January 2016.