But the Democrats have accused Johnson, a Republican from Wisconsin, of using both investigations to smear Trump’s opponents ahead of the elections ̵
Utah Republican Senator Mitt Romney expressed concern that the Ukrainian investigation “had the characteristics of a political exercise”.
“It is not the government’s legitimate role, for Congress or for taxpayer costs, to harm political opponents,” Romney said at the committee meeting on Wednesday.
“I don’t think it’s going to do any good for him,” Johnson told reporters on Tuesday.
Johnson accused the Democrats of spreading disinformation on their own, claiming he was working with Derkach and saying they had “coordinated smear tests” to “repeat, skew and beautify false allegations.”
The panel’s senior Democrat Senator Gary Peters of Michigan accused Wednesday that Johnson’s investigation was “designed to influence the presidential election.” Andrew Bates, spokesman for the Biden campaign, said Johnson had “admitted the real purpose of this deception: to save Donald Trump’s re-election campaign”.
Romney said Wednesday that the Ukrainian investigation “had the characteristics of a political exercise from the outset”.
“I fear recent comments in the media only confirmed that perspective,” he added, referring to Johnson’s comments earlier this week.
Romney told CNN on Wednesday that his previous vote in favor of the subpoenas for the Ukraine investigation enabled him to “take some protective measures” as part of the investigation. Romney defied Johnson’s original plan to summon Andrii Telizhenko, a Ukrainian who spread the 2016 electoral conspiracy theories and, like Derkach, worked with the president’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani.
Romney says he has not yet seen the committee report or panel testimony.
Austin Altenburg, a Johnson spokesman, replied to Romney’s comments: “This is Congress. Everything here has implications for politics and elections. The committee has specific powers to investigate conflicts of interest and its investigation into the policies of Burisma and the United States and the United States Ukraine started long before the Democratic presidential candidate was decided. The American people have the right to know what happened and what didn’t. ”
The committee previously approved subpoenas for documents to most of the officials it summoned on Wednesday for deposits. Seven new officials were added to the list in Wednesday’s vote, including former FBI director Andrew McCabe.
The committee intended to deliver a subpoena to an Obama-era State Department official Bridget Brink, who is now the US Ambassador to Slovakia. However, Johnson said Tuesday that the interview was scheduled voluntarily.
A person familiar with the investigation said that Obama administration State Department official Amos Hochstein will also be interviewed by the committee on Thursday. The panel has interviewed numerous Obama-era State Department officials, including George Kent, a key witness during the impeachment process.
This story was updated on Wednesday with further developments.
CNN’s Kara Scannell and Manu Raju contributed to this report.