GOP’s Grass­ley wants tes­ti­mony from Trump Jr.

Se­nate’s Ju­di­ciary chief says he’ll use sub­poena if needed

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - FRONT PAGE -

WASH­ING­TON — The Repub­li­can chair­man of the Se­nate Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee said he will call on Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s son to tes­tify amid in­ves­ti­ga­tions into pos­si­ble Rus­sian med­dling in last year’s elec­tion — and he said he’ll is­sue a sub­poena if nec­es­sary.

Sen. Charles Grass­ley, R-Iowa, said Thurs­day that he plans to send a let­ter to Don­ald Trump Jr. to ask him to ap­pear be­fore the com­mit­tee. He said he wants Trump’s el­dest child to tes­tify “pretty soon,” and it could be as early as next week. Asked if he was will­ing to is­sue a sub­poena if Trump Jr. de­clined to ap­pear, Grass­ley said “yes.”

Trump Jr. re­leased emails this week from 2016 in which he ap­peared ea­ger to ac­cept in­for­ma­tion from the Rus­sian gov­ern­ment that could have dam­aged Hil­lary Clin­ton’s cam­paign. The emails were sent ahead of a Trump Tower meet­ing with a Rus­sian lawyer that Trump’s former cam­paign man­ager, Paul Manafort, and Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kush­ner, also at­tended.

Grass­ley has said he also wants Manafort to tes­tify. He said Wed­nes­day that he wants to ques­tion Manafort about the gov­ern­ment’s en­force­ment of a law re­quir­ing reg­is­tra­tion of for­eign lob­by­ists. But Manafort would cer­tainly also be asked about the New York meet­ing.

Grass­ley wouldn’t say what he wants to hear from Don­ald Trump Jr., but said mem­bers aren’t re­stricted “from ask­ing any­thing they want to ask.” The top Demo­crat on the com­mit­tee, Sen. Dianne Fe­in­stein of Cal­i­for­nia, had also called on Don­ald Trump Jr. to tes­tify and had dis­cussed pos­si­ble sub­poe­nas with Grass­ley.

A lawyer for Don­ald Trump Jr. did not im­me­di­ately re­spond to a mes­sage seek­ing com­ment on whether his client would agree to ap­pear be­fore the com­mit­tee. A spokesman for the Se­nate Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee said the let­ter hasn’t been sent.

The pres­i­dent, in France on Thurs­day, de­fended his son’s meet­ing with the Rus­sian lawyer in June 2016, char­ac­ter­iz­ing it as stan­dard cam­paign prac­tice and main­tain­ing that “noth­ing hap­pened.”

“As far as my son is con­cerned, my son is a won­der­ful young man,” Trump said. “He took a meet­ing with a Rus­sian lawyer, not a gov­ern­ment lawyer, but a Rus­sian lawyer.”

The email sent to the younger Trump de­scribed the lawyer as a “Rus­sian gov­ern­ment at­tor­ney” who he be­lieved pos­sessed in­crim­i­nat­ing in­for­ma­tion about Hil­lary Clin­ton that could help his fa­ther’s pres­i­den­tial cam­paign.

“I think from a prac­ti­cal stand­point most peo­ple would’ve taken that meet­ing. It’s called op­po­si­tion re­search, or even re­search into your op­po­nent,” Trump said.

As well, Trump cast the meet­ing as sim­ply stan­dard prac­tice in the cut­throat world of pres­i­den­tial pol­i­tics, say­ing he of­ten re­ceived phone calls from peo­ple say­ing that had in­for­ma­tion that could dam­age Clin­ton.

“Pol­i­tics is not the nicest busi­ness in the world” and that it’s stan­dard for can­di­dates to wel­come neg­a­tive in­for­ma­tion about an op­po­nent. In this case, he added, “noth­ing hap­pened from the meet­ing, zero hap­pened from the meet­ing.”

IN­TEL­LI­GENCE COM­MIT­TEE

The Se­nate Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee is one of sev­eral con­gres­sional com­mit­tees in­ves­ti­gat­ing Rus­sian med­dling in the U.S. elec­tion. Vir­ginia Sen. Mark Warner, the top Demo­crat on the Se­nate In­tel­li­gence Com­mit­tee, has said he would also like to hear from Trump Jr. But the com­mit­tee’s chair­man, Repub­li­can Sen. Richard Burr of North Carolina, hasn’t said whether the se­cre­tive com­mit­tee

will call him in.

In re­sponse to calls from oth­ers in Congress for him to tes­tify be­fore the in­tel­li­gence panel, Trump Jr. tweeted Mon­day that he was “happy to work with the com­mit­tee to pass on what I know.”

It’s un­clear whether Trump Jr. would be as ea­ger to tes­tify be­fore the Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee which gen­er­ally con­ducts open hear­ings. The Se­nate In­tel­li­gence Com­mit­tee in­ter­views many of its wit­nesses in closed ses­sions, though it has held an un­usual num­ber of open hear­ings as part of the Rus­sia in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

Asked at his weekly news con­fer­ence about Grass­ley’s let­ter and whether Trump Jr. should tes­tify, House Speaker Paul Ryan didn’t ob­ject to the move.

“I think any wit­ness who’s been asked to tes­tify be­fore Congress should tes­tify,” Ryan said.

Ryan said he would leave it up to the wit­ness and the Se­nate to de­cide whether the hear­ing should be held in pub­lic.

Also Thurs­day, the Jus­tice Depart­ment re­leased a heav­ily

blacked-out page from At­tor­ney Gen­eral Jeff Ses­sions’ se­cu­rity clear­ance ap­pli­ca­tion in re­sponse to a gov­ern­ment watch­dog group’s law­suit.

The ap­pli­ca­tion page asks whether Ses­sions — a se­na­tor be­fore join­ing the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion — or any­one in his im­me­di­ate fam­ily had con­tact within the past seven years with a for­eign gov­ern­ment or its rep­re­sen­ta­tives.

There’s a “no” listed, but the rest of the an­swer is blacked out.

The depart­ment has ac­knowl­edged that Ses­sions omit­ted from his form meet­ings he had with for­eign dig­ni­taries, in­clud­ing the Rus­sian am­bas­sador.

A depart­ment spokesman says the FBI agent who helped with the form said those en­coun­ters didn’t have to be in­cluded as rou­tine con­tacts as part of Ses­sions’ Se­nate du­ties.

The pres­i­dent has called the in­ves­ti­ga­tion a “witch hunt” and has ques­tioned the con­clu­sion of U.S. in­tel­li­gence agen­cies that Rus­sia was be­hind the hack­ing and the re­lease of Demo­cratic

Party emails dur­ing the cam­paign.

Sev­eral elec­tion-law lawyers, Repub­li­can cam­paign op­er­a­tives and Repub­li­can mem­bers of Congress said this week that there is noth­ing rou­tine about for­eign­ers meet­ing with a cam­paign on such mat­ters.

Repub­li­can Rep. Trey Gowdy of South Carolina said he was con­cerned that so many mem­bers of Trump’s or­bit have failed to pro­vide dis­clo­sures of their meet­ings

with Rus­sians be­fore be­ing ex­posed by jour­nal­ists.

“If you had a con­tact with Rus­sia, tell the spe­cial coun­sel about it,” Gowdy said Mon­day on Fox News. “Don’t wait un­til The New York Times fig­ures it out!”

Christo­pher Wray, Trump’s nom­i­nee for FBI di­rec­tor, said in con­gres­sional tes­ti­mony Wed­nes­day that any politi­cian re­ceiv­ing such an email from a for­eign en­tity of­fer­ing dam­ag­ing in­for­ma­tion on a po­lit­i­cal op­po­nent should alert the FBI: “Any threat or ef­fort to in­ter­fere with our elec­tions from any na­tion-state or any non­state ac­tor is the kind of thing the FBI would want to know,” Wray said.

In­for­ma­tion for this ar­ti­cle was con­trib­uted by Mary Clare Jalonick, Eric Tucker, Jes­sica Gresko and Richard Lard­ner of The As­so­ci­ated Press; by Ash­ley Parker of The Wash­ing­ton Post; and by Justin Sink, Mar­garet Talev, To­luse Olorun­nipa and Jen­nifer Ja­cobs of Bloomberg News.

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