- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 20, 2020

The Senate’s primary oversight committee on Wednesday voted to issue its first subpoena in an investigation of Ukrainian business deals involving Hunter Biden, the son of presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joseph R. Biden.

The 8-6 party-line vote in the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee gave Chairman Ron Johnson, Wisconsin Republican, the authority to subpoena Blue Star Strategies, a PR firm that has done work for the Ukrainian energy company Burisma.

Mr. Johnson said if there’s no wrongdoing there’s nothing Democrats should fear in moving forward with a probe of Burisma, where Hunter Biden landed a lucrative job, despite never having worked in the energy sector, while his father led Obama administration efforts in graft-riddled Ukraine.

“We need to get to the truth about the Bidens’ relationship with Burisma, and these hearings will provide the Senate with the full picture,” said Sen. Rick Scott, Florida Republican.

Democrats said Republicans are grasping at straws in an election-year move to smear the elder Mr. Biden.

“These Republican subpoenas are a clear act of retaliation and political retribution intended to help the president keep his job,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat.

Blue Star CEO Karen Tramontano said in a letter to Mr. Johnson on Wednesday that the company has been cooperating with committee requests for documents and is “puzzled” on why the panel was proceeding with a subpoena.

A committee spokesman said the company had dragged its feet on the matter for months and only picked up the pace after lawmakers announced plans for the vote.

Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah, an outspoken critic of President Trump, voted with other Republicans to authorize the subpoena.

Mr. Trump and his allies have raised questions about Hunter Biden and the sweetheart gig he had on the board of Burisma while his father was vice president.

The Democrat-led House impeached Mr. Trump last year, saying the president abused his power in trying to strong-arm Ukraine into digging up dirt on the Bidens. The GOP-controlled Senate acquitted Mr. Trump earlier this year.

Mr. Biden has said he did nothing wrong related to his son’s business deals and that the two never discussed the son’s business deals.

Hunter Biden pocketed at least $3 million for the job on Burisma’s board of directors during a time of heightened tension over Russia annexing Crimea. He has acknowledged that he likely wouldn’t have gotten the job if he had a different last name.

In 2016, Mr. Biden visited Kyiv as vice president and threatened to withhold $1 billion in U.S. loan guarantees unless the country’s leaders fired Ukraine’s top prosecutor for corruption. The prosecutor was reportedly looking into the Ukraine gas company paying Hunter Biden.

Mr. Biden’s campaign on Wednesday pointed out that Mr. Johnson was among several U.S. senators who had backed the ouster of the prosecutor, Viktor Shokin, over corruption issues.

“Senator Johnson should be working overtime to save American lives — but instead he’s just trying to save the president’s job,” said Biden campaign spokesman Andrew Bates.

The Bidens also have been implicated in a billion-dollar deal in China.

In his book “Secret Empire,” Peter Schweizer described a trip the Bidens made to China in 2013 aboard Air Force Two. Less than two weeks later, Hunter Biden’s law firm made a $1 billion deal with a subsidiary of the Chinese government’s Bank of China. The deal later swelled to $1.5 billion, according to the book.

Mr. Johnson’s committee also has been looking into the China deal.

Separately, Mr. Johnson and other Senate Republicans also are looking into former Obama administration officials and “unmasking” requests involving former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn.

Mr. Biden was one of a dozen officials who might have gotten Flynn’s identity through the requests after Flynn had been captured on tape talking with Russia’s then-ambassador before Mr. Trump was sworn into office. Flynn later pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his conversations, though the Justice Department recently moved to have the case thrown out.

• S.A. Miller can be reached at smiller@washingtontimes.com.

• David Sherfinski can be reached at dsherfinski@washingtontimes.com.

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