Ron Johnson subpoenas FBI over Russia, defends Biden probe.
Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) has issued the first subpoena of his Senate probe into the origins of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation: to FBI Director Christopher Wray.
The subpoena, which POLITICO reviewed, demands documents but not testimony. Specifically, it asks for “all documents related to the Crossfire Hurricane investigation” — the FBI’s counterintelligence probe into Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election. That probe scrutinized Americans close to then-candidate Trump for their links to Kremlin officials. Mueller took over the probe in May 2017.
It’s an unusual move, given that President Donald Trump appointed Wray to his post helming the FBI. In the two years since Wray took that role, he has positioned himself as a low-profile defender of the institution — often drawing ire from the president’s allies in conservative media and on Capitol Hill.
Johnson also released a lengthy letter detailing the origins of his probe and criticizing the reaction it has garnered from media reports and Democrats. Democrats, Johnson wrote, “have initiated a coordinated disinformation campaign and effort to personally attack” himself and Finance Committee chairman Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), whose office has worked with.
The letter specifically addresses a recent Washington Post op-ed from Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.). In the op-ed, Blumenthal said Johnson’s investigation risked turning Congress into “a forum for debunked conspiracy theories peddled by Kremlin proxies.” Blumenthal cited a Post story reporting that a Ukrainian parliamentarian whose father worked in Russian intelligence said he’d sent materials to Johnson’s committee.
In his letter, Johnson reiterated that his committee has not received anything from that parliamentarian, Andriy Derkach. The U.S. Office of the Director of National Intelligence released a statement late last week saying that Derkach was participating in a Kremlin-backed effort to damage former vice president Joe Biden’s presidential campaign.
“It is neither me, Chairman Grassley, nor our committees that are being used to disseminate Russian disinformation,” Johnson wrote. “Instead, it is Democrats and the media that have been doing Russian President Vladimir Putin’s work for him. Puppet masters in the Kremlin could not be more pleased at the political division and discord that has been driven by the resistance movement against President Trump.”