“Put simply, this motion — and I’m sorry to say this, but I believe it — grants the chair unbridled authority to go after Obama-era officials,” said Senator Dianne Feinstein of California, the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee. “I can’t support this kind of dragnet authority to conduct politically motivated investigations.”
Democrats did not dispute that mistakes had been made by the Crossfire Hurricane investigative team, but they noted that those issues were already being explored, and argued that Republicans were using the errors — which related to a warrant to wiretap a former Trump campaign adviser — to try to undermine the entire special counsel investigation.
Mr. Graham’s committee previewed its strategy on Wednesday, when at its first public hearing on the topic, Republicans pressed Rod J. Rosenstein, the former deputy attorney general who appointed the special counsel in the Russia inquiry, to concede that there had not been sufficient evidence in 2017 to continue the investigation. Mr. Rosenstein defended the inquiry, but said he would not have signed off on a wiretap if he had known at the time that it contained factual errors and omissions.
Mr. Johnson has indicated he is more interested in highlighting the origins of a dossier of opposition research on the Trump campaign and Russia assembled by a former British spy and cited by investigators. He will also focus on requests made by Obama administration officials to reveal the identities of unnamed Americans, who later turned out to be Trump associates, mentioned in intelligence reports.
Mr. Johnson is separately investigating unsubstantiated claims that Mr. Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, corruptly helped a Ukrainian energy company curry favor with the Obama administration while his father was vice president.
Senator Mitt Romney of Utah, a member of the homeland security panel, was the lone Republican to criticize the investigations, saying that he was concerned they were “politically motivated.”
“This committee’s inquiry is not entirely without basis,” Mr. Romney said, “but as you know, I believe there are far more urgent priorities the committee should address, particularly given the trauma in our country from Covid-19, a shattered economy, widespread protests against systemic racism, foreign cyberattacks, and the list goes on and on.”