Senate Committee Delays Subpoena Related to Burisma, Biden


(Bloomberg) -- Senate Homeland Security Chairman Ron Johnson said he is postponing a committee vote to subpoena a witness linked to the Ukrainian energy company Burisma Holdings when former Vice President Joe Biden’s son served on its board.

The decision is a reversal from Johnson’s announcement last week that he was moving to compel the testimony of a former consultant to a U.S.-based firm that represented Burisma when Hunter Biden was a well-paid board member, at a time his father oversaw U.S. policy on Ukraine.

Without providing precise reasons, Johnson told fellow members of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee that he planned to postpone the subpoena “out of an abundance of caution.” The committee had been scheduled to vote Wednesday.

Johnson and Senate Finance Chairman Chuck Grassley have been investigating the Bidens for potential conflicts of interest involving Ukraine and China, where Hunter Biden also did business. Shortly after President Donald Trump was acquitted by the Senate on impeachment charges last month, the chairmen said they were seeking records of Hunter Biden’s travel.

House Democrats impeached Trump in December on charges of abusing his power and obstructing Congress in an effort to get Ukraine to investigate the Bidens. Trump and his allies say such an investigation was warranted, given Hunter Biden’s position on Burisma’s board.

Last week, Johnson said he would subpoena records and testimony from Blue Star Strategies consultant Andrii Telizhenko about his work for the lobbying firm that worked with Burisma.

But the timing of his announcement was criticized as politically motivated, as Joe Biden has secured front-runner status in the Democratic presidential race. Republican Senator Mitt Romney of Utah, a member of Johnson’s committee, was among those who publicly expressed concern about the timing of such a subpoena.

“The appearance is unfortunate to have an investigation going on that involves a person in an active campaign for president,” said Romney, the only Republican who voted to convict Trump in the Senate impeachment trial. Still, Romney said he would back the subpoena effort, which could be decisive in any committee vote.

In Johnson’s Wednesday message to committee members, he said the postponement of the subpoena would “allow time for you to receive additional briefings.”

He added that “while we work through those questions, at the suggestion of both Republican and Democrat committee members, we will instead go straight to the source and compel the same records and an appearance directly from Blue Star Strategies.”

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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