It still hasn’t ended.
Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) sent a letter March 1 indicating that he wants to begin issuing subpoenas in his investigation of the same debunked allegations that featured in President Trump’s impeachment.
SCOOP: Chairman Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs committee @RonJohnsonWI wants to subpoena witness tied to US firm and Burisma where the former Vice President’s son sat on the board. Letter obtained @CBSNews says government records indicate concerns warranted pic.twitter.com/BBoTB0lGh0
— Catherine Herridge (@CBS_Herridge) March 2, 2020
So the Senate’s Ukraine-Hunter Biden investigation continues, as does former Vice President Joe Biden’s candidacy, which received a weekend boost with a victory in South Carolina and with South Bend mayor Pete Buttigieg’s exit from the race.
The upshot of the letter is that Sen. Johnson has been fighting to issue subpoenas to former Ukraine embassy in D.C. staffer and Rudy Giuliani buddy Andrii Telizhenko, and to Blue Star Strategies, a D.C.-based lobbying firm that Burisma hired in 2016 to burnish the gas company’s image.
The missive reveals that Sen. Johnson may be days from sending subpoenas in the probe, saying that he plans to hold a vote to issue the demands for documents and testimony.
The issue comes down to testimony from Telizhenko, who has spun unsupported stories since President Trump’s election to the effect that the DNC colluded with the Ukrainian government in 2016 to damage Trump’s candidacy.
Though unsubstantiated, Telizhenko’s narrative served as a useful cudgel for the GOP during the process of Trump’s impeachment, giving the President’s allies a set of ready-make, whataboutist allegations with which to bludgeon Democrats.
Sen. Gary Peters (D-MI), the Committee’s ranking member, purportedly told Johnson in a Feb. 27 letter that the Committee should “receive defensive briefings — specifically regarding Mr. Telizhenko — from relevant intelligence community and law enforcement officials.”
Johnson wrote in the letter that Committee staff called the FBI on Saturday, and received “a response that directly addressed the stated concerns” and referenced a classified “intelligence product” regarding Telizhenko, before emphasizing the narrowness of the panel’s interest in the Ukrainian lobbyist.
Telizhenko told TPM on Monday that his “main goal” was “to have the authorities investigate what happened in Ukraine.”
“So it won’t happen again,” he added.
The letter suggests that Johnson is focused on whether Blue Star “sought to leverage Hunter Biden’s role as a board member of Burisma to gain access to, and potentially influence matters at, the State Department.”
Johnson wrote that the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee had received “U.S. government records” about the matter, including State Department documents which, the Wisconsin Senator claimed, “corroborate records Mr. Telizhenko has already produced to the Committee.”
Telizhenko told TPM that he was a “patriot of Ukraine” and “went through a lot to get the truth to the US authorities.”
“The Democratic Senators and Congressmen call anybody who does not support their views as an intelligence asset, for example the President of United States even though it was proven not true))) (sic),” Telizhenko wrote. “The main issue that it has to be investigated what happened in Ukraine under Obama admin. And if the Dems where not guilty (sic) they would initiate such investigation themselves from the beginning and show what is true and what is not.”
It’s not clear to what extent the investigation into Hunter Biden has lain dormant since the Senate acquitted President Trump on Feb. 5, and to what extent the Committee has stayed on the topic.
Telizhenko has also provided documents to the Senate Finance and Foreign Affairs Committees, and maintains a regular slot on Rudy Giuliani’s podcast, which continues to propagate conspiracy theories about Biden and Ukraine.
A Johnson spokesman did not return repeated requests for comment, including a question about the timing of the letter’s issuance with Biden’s resurgence in the Democratic primary.