Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) on Wednesday criticized his Republican colleagues on the Senate Homeland Security Committee for their probe into Joe Biden and his son's dealings in Ukraine, saying that it has the "earmarks of a political exercise."
Why it matters: Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), who is leading the investigation, told supporters on Monday that "in about a week we’re going to learn a whole lot more of Vice President Biden’s unfitness for office." The committee is investigating Hunter Biden's work for Ukrainian gas company Burisma at a time when Joe Biden was leading the Obama administration's Ukraine policy.
What he's saying: "[The investigation] from the outset had the earmarks of a political exercise," Romney said at a hearing on Wednesday. "I'm fearful that comments made in the media recently have only confirmed that perspective."
- “It’s not the legitimate role of government, for Congress or for taxpayer expense, to be used in an effort to damage political opponents."
- "I do believe it's very important that the committees of Congress, and ours in particular, not fall into an increasing pattern that we're seeing, which is using taxpayer dollars and the power of Congress to do political work. That's the role of campaigns."
The big picture: Romney's comments came after Johnson cancelled a vote that would have issued a subpoena to U.S. Ambassador to Slovakia Bridget Brink as part of the Burisma probe.
- The committee did, however, authorize subpoenas on Wednesday targeting former Obama administration officials' roles during the transition to the Trump administration. Romney voted in favor of those subpoenas.
- Romney said the probe on the Obama officials could dodge "obvious political implications" by focusing on specific allegations alleged in a report by DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz.
Flashback: Romney in March said the investigation "appears" politically motivated. But a spokesperson for the senator said the next day he changed his mind after receiving assurances from Johnson that the probe would be handled behind closed doors.