As GOP eyes anti-Biden subpoena, Romney concedes partisan 'appearance'

It's refreshing when a prominent GOP senator is willing to acknowledge that his party is engaged in a clumsy partisan scheme.
Image: Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, leaves the State of the Union address on Feb. 5, 2019.
Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, leaves the State of the Union address on Feb. 5, 2019.Alex Wroblewski / Bloomberg via Getty Images file

Joe Biden's reversal of fortunes hasn't just surprised Democrats; it's forced Republicans to quickly alter their political postures, too.

When the former vice president appeared to be his party's 2020 frontrunner, a variety of Senate Republican leaders started using their offices to target Biden. When the Delaware Democrat faltered badly in Iowa and New Hampshire, GOP senators appeared to shift their focus. Now that Biden is out in front again, wouldn't you know it, Republicans have rediscovered their interest -- to the point that Senate Homeland Security Committee Chairman Ron Johnson is preparing to launch a subpoena as part of an inquiry into the Burisma "story."

"[I]f I were a Democrat [sic] primary voter, I'd want these questions satisfactorily answered before I cast my final vote," Johnson told reporters this week, as if he were genuinely interested in helping provide rank-and-file Democrats with important information.

In reality, there is no actual controversy, as Johnson likely realizes. In the fact, the brazenly political nature of the inquiry is so obvious that even one of the Wisconsin senator's Republican colleagues seemed willing to acknowledge it.

Sen. Mitt Romney, who voted to convict Trump on an abuse of power charge, said he hasn't decided on whether to back a subpoena but would discuss the matter with his colleagues. Asked if he thinks the probe may be politically motivated, the Utah Republican said: "I think at this stage, it certainly has that appearance."

Romney's concession is interesting for a couple of reasons. The first, obviously, is that it's always refreshing, at least to a degree, when a prominent GOP senator is willing to acknowledge -- on the record, no less -- that his party is engaged in a clumsy partisan scheme.

But in this case, there's also a practical consideration: as the CNN report added, "Republicans hold an 8-6 advantage on the Homeland Security Committee. So if Romney breaks ranks, it could be enough to scuttle Johnson's push."

I'm skeptical that will happen, but it's an angle worth watching. Ron Johnson is reportedly planning a committee vote on Wednesday, March 11, on whether to proceed with the inquiry. Watch this space.

Update: Romney added this morning, “There's no question that the appearance of looking into Burisima and Hunter Biden appears political. I think people are tired of these kind of political investigations.”