When I first heard that Donald Trump Jr was being subpoenaed, I assumed that it was a House committee led by the Democrats. I was more than a little surprised that it was the Senate Intelligence Committee.
This subpoena is causing a bit of a stir within the Republican electeds. But the committee chair, Senator Richard Burr (R – NC) seems committed to hearing from Mr. Trump!
The Senate Intelligence Committee’s decision to subpoena Donald Trump Jr. has ignited an internal Republican firefight over the fate of the committee’s Russia probe, as the panel’s GOP chairman showed no signs of backing down despite fierce criticism from many of his colleagues that it was time to move on.
The sudden infighting threatened to undermine support for the Senate’s Russia investigation, which is the sole bipartisan probe in Congress into Russian interference in the 2016 election and has been widely praised as operating with little public drama.
Much of the backlash against the decision by Chairman Richard Burr (N.C.) to subpoena President Trump’s eldest son came from GOP senators who are up for reelection next year and from those closely aligned with the president.
Yet, until Thursday, the Senate Intelligence Committee has faced little public pressure to wrap up its investigation, which began in January 2017. And some GOP senators on the powerful but secretive committee made a point to stress publicly that their probe was separate from Mueller’s, despite attempts by others to link the two.
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), a member of the intelligence panel, said the intense criticism of Burr was in part a misunderstanding of the focus of the committee’s investigation, which Rubio said is being inaccurately conflated with the special counsel probe.
“Mueller is a criminal justice investigation,” Rubio said. “Ours is an intelligence investigation about the Russia threat and about the way our agencies performed.”
Why Senator Burr wants to hear from Mr. Trump Jr. isn’t entirely clear but apparently the committee is hearing from a number of people for a second time. But it is going to get really interesting if Mr. Trump Jr. ignores the subpoena as he’s being advised to do...since he doesn’t quite have the clout that officials in the Oval Office might have. Particularly given this:
The sources said Trump Jr is expected to cite his Fifth Amendment constitutional right to avoid self-incrimination, a day after reports that the Republican-led panel had issued what is the first publicly known subpoena for a member of the president’s family.
Trump Jr. had appeared before the panel previously to answer questions from committee staff, according to congressional sources. The subpoena was issued now because Senators want to question him themselves, they said.
The sources said the senators want to question Trump Jr. about testimony he gave to the Senate Judiciary Committee in September 2017 which was subsequently contradicted by Michael Cohen, Trump’s former lawyer who started his prison sentence this week in part for lying to Congress.
And just a little side note:
Led by Republican chairman Richard Burr, the intelligence panel is the only committee in the Republican-controlled Senate that has been conducting a bipartisan investigation into allegations of Russian interference in U.S. politics.
This was probably a pretty low key investigation until…they couldn’t get Mr. Trump Jr. to co-operate. If he had just agreed to appear…this may have just been another two or three inches of column space…instead it may end up being a big brouhaha with some real consequences. Or maybe not.