Senate committee approves over 50 subpoenas for investigation of Mueller probe

The party line votes are the latest escalation in the Republican-led investigation into the origins of the special counsel's probe.
Image: Robert Mueller, former special counsel for the U.S. Department of Justice, speaks during a House Judiciary Committee hearing on July 24, 2019.
Robert Mueller, former special counsel for the U.S. Department of Justice, speaks during a House Judiciary Committee hearing on July 24, 2019.Eric Thayer / Bloomberg via Getty Images file

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By Leigh Ann Caldwell

WASHINGTON — The Senate Judiciary Committee Thursday voted along party lines to authorize 53 subpoenas in its investigation into the FBI and special counsel probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election and possible ties to the Trump campaign.

The move is the latest escalation of the Republicans probe that Democrats say is simply an election-year political move to appease the president.

President Donald Trump has said he would not sign a FISA reform bill that is now stalled in the Senate until an investigation into the FBI’s role of approving FISA applications for Trump campaign official Carter Page.

“We need to look long and hard how the Mueller investigation went off the rails,” Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, said.

Officials on the subpoena list include former CIA Director John Brennan, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, former FBI Director James Comey, former Obama chief of staff Dennis McDonough, former Obama national security adviser Susan Rice, former Attorney General Loretta Lynch, former Deputy Director of the FBI Andrew McCabe as well as former FBI officials Peter Strzok and Lisa Page and current FBI Director Christopher Wray.

To counter the Republican subpoenas, Democrats sought subpoenas for people in Trump’s inner circle, including former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort, Trump personal attorney Rudy Guiliani, his former attorney Michael Cohen, former deputy campaign manager Rich Gates, Trump campaign advisers George Papadopoulos and Michael Flynn and former Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Those votes failed along party lines.

During the committee meeting Thursday morning, Democrats said that the Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz had concluded that the Mueller investigation was justified. They said the committee should be focused on the police tactics in the aftermath of the killing of George Floyd at the hands of police and the coronavirus pandemic that is seeing a resurgence in some parts of the country.

“If the focus (of the investigation) is on FISA reform, this subpoena list in no way reflects that goal,” Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., said.

The Judiciary Committee’s move comes one week after the Senate Homeland Security Committee approved 36 subpoenas, many of which overlap, into their investigation into the origins of the Mueller report and the “unmasking” of Trump campaign adviser Gen. Flynn during the Trump transition.