Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) questioned the legitimacy of the Senate investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden's dealings in Ukraine, calling the probe a "political exercise."
In remarks made Wednesday during a business meeting of the Senate Homeland Security & Government Affairs Committee, Romney said "the Biden-Burisma investigation … I think, from the outset, had the earmarks of a political exercise, and I'm fearful that comments made in the media recently have only confirmed that perspective."
The "comments made in the media" Romney referenced are likely comments made by the chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.). On Monday, Johnson told supporters on a call to "stay tuned" as "in about a week we're going to learn a whole lot more of Vice President Biden's unfitness for office."
"Obviously, it's the provenance of campaigns and political parties, opposition research, the media to carry out political endeavors, to learn about or dust up one's opponent, but it's not the legitimate role of government for Congress or for taxpayer expense to be used in an effort to damage political opponents," Romney said. "Therefore I am pleased that our votes today do not include additional authorizations relating to the Biden/Burisma investigation."
Earlier in Wednesday's meeting, Johnson canceled a committee vote that would have issued a subpoena to U.S. Ambassador to Slovakia Bridget Brink to testify in the Biden probe. Johnson is leading an investigation into allegations of corruption involving Joe and Hunter Biden's business dealings with Ukrainian gas firm Burisma. Biden is accused by critics of using his position as vice president to influence U.S. policy toward Ukraine and benefit his son, who sat on Burisma's board.
Romney has been skeptical of the Burisma investigation since it began in March.
"There's no question but that the appearance of looking into Burisma and Hunter Biden appears political," he told reporters at the time.
"And I think people are tired of these kind of political investigations and would hope that if there's something of significance that needs to be evaluated, that it would be done by perhaps the FBI or some other agency that's not as political as perhaps a committee of our, of our body."
Romney did, however, vote in favor of issuing new subpoenas as part of the Senate investigation into the FBI's conduct during the Russia investigation.
"With regards to the Crossfire Hurricane investigation, I think it's also important, because this has such obvious political implications, that the committee's investigation focus on the specific wrongdoing alleged by the inspector general's report," Romney said. "My vote today essentially is a reaffirmation of the subpoena authorization that was already approved by this committee with my support on June 4th, and I will continue that support as long as it does not fall into the realm of rank political undertaking.
"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."