GOP-Led Senate Panel Subpoenas Trump Jr. Over Testimony
(Bloomberg) -- The Republican-led Senate Intelligence Committee has subpoenaed Donald Trump Jr., the president’s eldest son, to answer additional questions about his earlier testimony for the panel’s bipartisan Russia probe, according to a person close to Trump Jr.
The committee wants him to respond to testimony by Donald Trump’s former fixer, Michael Cohen, on the Trump Tower Moscow project, the person said.
The subpoena marks the first known instance of a Republican-led congressional committee compelling testimony from one of Trump’s children, potentially setting up a battle between a fiercely protective father and his overseers in Congress.
The move surfaced a day after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the Russia probe was “case closed” with the release of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report.
But Democrats have been pushing to get more information on his investigation, saying many questions remain unanswered. The House Judiciary Committee voted Wednesday to hold Attorney General William Barr in contempt over his refusal to hand over the full unredacted version of Mueller’s report.
The Senate Intelligence Committee said it doesn’t discuss its interactions with witnesses, but that it has the authority to recall witnesses as needed.
Under Chairman Richard Burr of North Carolina, the Senate Intelligence panel has been conducting the only bipartisan probe, and one that’s lasted even longer than Mueller’s. He’s previously said that it had yet to find any collusion between Trump’s 2016 campaign and Russian operatives, although senators acknowledged Mueller had access to witnesses and evidence that they did not.
The proposed tower in Moscow was the brainchild of Cohen and Felix Sater, a former Trump associate who chased property deals for the future president. The pair pursued a potential tower in Moscow well into the 2016 presidential campaign -- Cohen has said he regularly briefed members of the Trump family of their progress -- but nothing came of it.
The abandoned tower project has become a flashpoint in Democrats’ struggle to understand Trump’s involvement with Russian-linked entities in the wake of the Russian government’s attempt to tilt the 2016 election in Trump’s favor. Trump has denied having business interests in Russia and defended his right to pursue business in the country.
Trump Jr. told the Senate Judiciary Committee in September 2017 that he knew "very little" about Cohen and Sater’s attempt to build a Trump-branded tower in Russia’s capital.
“I was peripherally aware of it, but most of my knowledge has been gained since as it relates to hearing about it over the last few weeks," Trump Jr. told that panel behind closed doors, according to a published transcript.
His testimony sharply contrasts with what Cohen told the House Oversight Committee in February. Cohen, who this week began serving a three-year prison sentence for bank fraud and lying to Congress, said that he briefed Trump Jr. and his sister Ivanka about the project’s status about 10 times until Cohen, Sater and the Trump Organization abandoned their efforts in mid-2016 after reports began to surface of Russia’s interference in the presidential campaign.
Trump Jr. testified that all he knew about the effort was that his father had signed a letter of intent, "and that’s about the extent of it," he told the Senate Judiciary Committee. His earlier testimony to the Senate Intelligence panel, also behind closed doors, hasn’t been released.
Trump Jr. spent about 27 hours testifying to various congressional panels about Russia-related matters, said the person close to the president’s son, who added that when Trump Jr. decided to sit for an interview with the Senate Intelligence Committee there was an agreement that he’d only have to testify once. The person said that Trump Jr. may be willing to answer some written questions, but that no lawyer would agree to allow a client to participate in a public relations stunt.
©2019 Bloomberg L.P.