Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) on Wednesday slammed a Republican-led Senate investigation involving Hunter Biden, saying it has the appearance of a “political exercise” intended to damage the candidacy of his father, Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden.
Congressional Republicans earlier this year launched two partisan investigations into the Obama administration and Hunter Biden. They’re expected to wrap up their work and release public reports on their findings in the coming weeks ― just before the Nov. 3 election.
The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, chaired by Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), on Wednesday voted 8-6 to authorize additional depositions and subpoenas to 40 former Obama officials as part of its investigation into the FBI’s probe of Russia’s 2016 election meddling.
At the last minute, however, the committee scrapped a separate vote on additional subpoenas as part of its investigation into Burisma, the Ukrainian energy firm for which Hunter Biden once served on the board of directors.
Romney supported the first subpoena request, but said the panel’s Ukraine probe “had the earmarks of a political exercise” in brief remarks after Wednesday’s vote.
“I’m fearful that comments made in the media recently have only confirmed that perspective,” he added as Johnson looked on.
For months, Johnson has teased the existence of damaging information on Joe Biden stemming from his son’s business activities. But the release date keeps slipping closer to the election. Johnson told a group of GOP activists on Monday to “stay tuned ... we’re going to learn a whole lot more of [former] Vice President Biden’s fitness for office.”
“What our investigations are uncovering, I think, will reveal this is not somebody we should be electing president,” he added in a radio talk show interview on Tuesday.
Democrats angrily pointed to the comments as an explicit admission that the senator was using his committee to damage the Democrat challenging President Donald Trump’s reelection bid.
“Now, for the second time in two days, Johnson has explicitly admitted the true purpose of this sham: to bail out Donald Trump’s re-election campaign,” Biden campaign spokesman Andrew Bates said in a statement on Tuesday.
With his Wednesday comments, Romney joined in suggesting Johnson’s probe was politically motivated on Wednesday.
“It’s not the legitimate role of government for Congress or for taxpayer expense to be used as an effort to damage political opponents,” the 2012 Republican presidential nominee said.
Romney was the only GOP senator who broke with his party and voted to convict Trump in his impeachment trial earlier this year for pressuring Ukraine officials to investigate the Bidens due to Hunter Biden’s work with Burisma.
The Utah Republican voted in May, however, to authorize Johnson’s investigation into Burisma.
This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.