AP sources: Trump Jr. sub­poena sent when in­ter­views de­clined

The Saratogian (Saratoga, NY) - - FRONT PAGE - By Mary Clare Jalonick and Lisa Mas­caro

WASH­ING­TON >> The Sen­ate in­tel­li­gence committee sub­poe­naed Don­ald Trump Jr. af­ter he backed out of two sched­uled in­ter­views as part of the panel’s Rus­sia in­ves­ti­ga­tion, the chair­man of the committee told his Repub­li­can col­leagues last week as he tried to stem crit­i­cism from the move.

Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., out­lined the events at a GOP cau­cus lun­cheon Thurs­day af­ter weath­er­ing fierce crit­i­cism for the sub­poena of Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s el­dest son, ac­cord­ing to three peo­ple fa­mil­iar with the re­marks. They re­quested anonymity to dis­cuss the pri­vate sen­a­tors’ meet­ing.

Burr told col­leagues that Trump Jr. had twice vol­un­tar­ily agreed to in­ter­views and later backed out. The committee had been in ne­go­ti­a­tions with Trump Jr. since De­cem­ber and had sched­uled the in­ter­views for March and April, ac­cord­ing to one of the peo­ple fa­mil­iar with his re­marks.

Trump Jr’s stance about the in­ter­views changed af­ter spe­cial coun­sel Robert Mueller’s probe on Rus­sian elec­tion in­ter­fer­ence in­ves­ti­ga­tion ended with­out any charges against the pres­i­dent’s el­dest son, ac­cord­ing to a per­son fa­mil­iar with his be­liefs but not au­tho­rized to speak pub­licly about pri­vate con­ver­sa­tions. Trump Jr’s le­gal team also com­plained that, in its view, the committee re­fused to ne­go­ti­ate the scope or time limit of the tes­ti­mony.

The pres­i­dent on Tues­day said he be­lieved that his son was be­ing treated poorly.

“It’s re­ally a tough sit­u­a­tion be­cause my son spent, I guess, over 20 hours tes­ti­fy­ing about some­thing that Mueller said was 100 per­cent OK and now they want him to tes­tify again,” Trump told re­porters at the White House be

fore trav­el­ing to Louisiana. “I don’t know why. I have no idea why. But it seems very un­fair to me.”

Sen­a­tors on the committee want to go over an­swers Trump Jr. gave the panel’s staff in a 2017 in­ter­view and ask fur­ther ques­tions. It’s the first known sub­poena of a member of the pres­i­dent’s im­me­di­ate fam­ily, and news of the move prompted strong words from Burr’s Repub­li­can col­leagues, in­clud­ing some who went as far as to say they thought Trump Jr. shouldn’t com­ply.

Sen. Thom Til­lis, R-N.C., tweeted, “It’s time to move on & start fo­cus­ing on is­sues that mat­ter to Amer­i­cans.” Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, a GOP member of the panel, said he un­der­stood Trump Jr.’s frus­tra­tion. Cornyn’s Texas col­league, Repub­li­can Sen. Ted Cruz, said there was “no need” for the sub­poena.

Sen­ate Ju­di­ciary Committee Chair­man Lind­sey Graham, R-S.C., said on “Fox News Sun­day” that if he were Trump Jr.’s lawyer, “I would tell him, ‘You don’t need to go back into this en­vi­ron­ment any­more.’”

That Trump Jr. backed out of the in­ter­views was first re­ported by CNN.

The sub­poena high­lights a del­i­cate bind fac­ing Burr, a third-term se­na­tor who is not ex­pected to run for re-elec­tion in 2022. He has been adamant that the panel’s Rus­sia probe be bi­par­ti­san and fair and has worked closely with the panel’s top Demo­crat, Virginia Sen. Mark Warner.

Burr’s committee had re­newed in­ter­est in talk­ing to Trump Jr. af­ter Trump’s for­mer lawyer, Michael Co­hen, told a House committee in Fe­bru­ary that he had briefed Trump Jr. ap­prox­i­mately 10 times about a plan to build a Trump Tower in Moscow be­fore the pres­i­den­tial elec­tion. Trump Jr. told the Sen­ate Ju­di­ciary Committee in a sep­a­rate in­ter­view in 2017 he was only “pe­riph­er­ally aware” of the pro­posal.

The panel is also in­ter­ested in talk­ing to the pres­i­dent’s first son about other top­ics, in­clud­ing a cam­paign meet­ing in Trump Tower with a Rus­sian lawyer.

PAUL SANCYA — THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS FILE

The chair­man of the Sen­ate in­tel­li­gence committee says the panel sub­poe­naed Don­ald Trump Jr. af­ter he backed out of two in­ter­views that were part of its Rus­sia in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

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