WASHINGTON (CN) — Ramping up an investigation tied to the president’s political rival, a Republican-led Senate committee voted Wednesday to issue the first subpoena related to Hunter Biden’s role at a Ukrainian energy conglomerate.
The 8-6 vote of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee fell on party lines, demanding records from Blue Star Strategies, a U.S. consulting company that hired Hunter Biden to serve on the board of Burisma Holdings.
Republicans allege that both Hunter and his father, former Vice President Joe Biden, acted in bad faith by attempting to use the job at Burisma to influence decisions made at the State Department.
Seeking records dating back to 2013, the subpoena to Blue Star specifically seeks documents and eventually, a deposition, from its CEO Karen Tramontano.
Tramontano called the development “puzzling” in a letter to the committee chair on Wednesday, noting how Blue Star already indicated its intent to cooperate with lawmakers seeking more information.
“At no time have we ever stated or indicated in any way that we would not cooperate,” she told the committee, which is chaired by Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin.
Against claims by Democrats that the investigation is a partisan election ploy to boost President Donald Trump, Johnson said they have nothing to fear if nothing untoward occurred during Biden’s tenure at Burisma.
“But if there’s something there, the American people need to know,” Johnson said.
Michigan Senator Gary Peters, the committee’s ranking Democrat, bemoaned the vote, warning that it sends lawmakers on a “dangerous path” during a national crisis.
“At this moment when Americans need us to work together, this extremely partisan investigation is pulling us apart,” Peters said.
Democratic Senator Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire also lamented what she called “partisan nonsense and conspiracy theories.”
“Today’s mark-up fails to further the health and wellbeing of the American people which should, without question, be our focus right now,” Hassan said, referencing the Covid-19 pandemic that has infected more than a million Americans and killed over 324,000.
Hassan also said Wednesday’s vote risks amplifying Russian disinformation campaigns intended to erode democracy.
“We should work together to help our fellow Americans through this crisis not further Russian interests,” Hassan said. “This is a sad day for this committee.”
Senator Kamala Harris of California likewise said the subpoena would only serve to sow more distrust among the public and fuel rampant skepticism in America’s democratic government.
“Today’s agenda reveals a lot about the Republican Party’s priorities,” Harris said. “There are literally matters of life and death waiting for attention but instead this committee is doing the president’s personal bidding.
Senator Mitt Romney — the only Republican in Congress who voted to convict Trump of abuse of power during impeachment — voted in favor of issuing the subpoena Wednesday.
The committee would have deadlocked on the issue without his yea vote. A representative for the lawmaker did not immediately return request for comment.
The subpoena marks only part of a wider campaign on Capitol Hill to investigate what Republicans claim was illegal surveillance ordered on Trump in the final days of President Barack Obama’s administration.
Over at the Senate Judiciary Committee, Chairman Lindsey Graham said just a day earlier that he anticipated publishing a final report on the origins of the FBI’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
That report will likely be made public in September or October but definitely before the election, the South Carolina Republican said Tuesday.
The Senate Judiciary Committee will vote in two weeks on whether to subpoena records and witness testimony from officials involved with former special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe and the FBI.
All of this also coincides with the president’s push early this month to peddle what he described on Twitter as “Obamagate.”
In effect, Trump accuses his predecessor of having sabotaged his campaign by leaking information about Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn to the media.
The White House did not immediately return request for comment.