- REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
- The Senate Intelligence Committee has reportedly subpoenaed Donald Trump Jr. to appear before the panel.
- According to Axios, the committee is compelling Trump Jr. to answer questions about previous congressional testimony he gave connected to the Russia investigation.
- The move is significant because it comes from a Republican-led committee, and it is the first congressional subpoena of one of President Donald Trump’s children.
- Trump Jr. is under scrutiny over whether he misled Congress in 2017 when testifying about the Trump Tower Moscow deal and a June 2016 Trump Tower meeting between top campaign officials and two Russian lobbyists.
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The Senate Intelligence Committee has subpoenaed Donald Trump Jr. to answer questions about previous congressional testimony he gave connected to the Russia investigation, Axios reported Wednesday.
The news is significant for several reasons.
First, the Republican-led Senate Intelligence Committee’s Russia investigation has been a largely bipartisan inquiry and stands in stark contrast to parallel Russia probes led by the House intelligence and judiciary committees.
Second, this is the first known congressional subpoena for one of President Donald Trump’s children.
Trump’s eldest son came under scrutiny after Michael Cohen, Trump’s longtime former lawyer and fixer, admitted to lying to Congress about his involvement in the Trump Organization’s push to build a Trump Tower in Moscow during the 2016 election.
Cohen told lawmakers that negotiations for the Trump Tower Moscow deal ended in January 2016 and that he did not discuss it extensively with Trump Organization executives.
In fact, the special counsel Robert Mueller’s office said, Cohen “discussed the status and progress of the Moscow Project” with Trump “on more than the three occasions Cohen claimed” to the Senate Intelligence Committee when he testified in 2017, and that “he briefed family members” of Trump within the Trump Organization about it.
Cohen’s admissions raised significant questions about Trump Jr.’s testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee in September 2017. He told the panel at the time that he “wasn’t involved” in the Trump Tower Moscow project and was only “peripherally aware” of it in 2016.
He also said he was not aware Cohen had reached out to the Russian government about the deal and indicated that Cohen’s work with the Russian-born businessman Felix Sater on the project ended in 2015.
But Cohen admitted to pursuing the deal with Sater as late as June 2016, after Trump became the presumptive Republican presidential nominee.
Lawmakers also questioned Trump Jr. about his involvement in a June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower between top campaign officials and two Russian lobbyists offering dirt on the Hillary Clinton campaign as “part of Russia and its government’s support” for Trump’s candidacy.
Trump and his lawyers have said he did not know about the meeting until after it was reported on last July. Trump Jr. told the Senate Judiciary Committee the same, saying he did not inform his father of the meeting prior to its occurrence.
But Cohen testified to the House Oversight Committee in February that he recalled an instance during which he was in the room, in early June 2016, when Trump Jr. walked in and told his father, “The meeting is all set.”
According to Cohen, Trump replied, “OK, good … let me know.”
Cohen struck a plea deal with Mueller’s office and reported to prison this week for a three-year sentence.
Elie Honig, a former federal prosecutor from the Southern District of New York, told INSIDER last year that the president’s son “ought to be alarmed” by Cohen’s plea deal. “We know Trump Jr. was questioned on the same topics that Michael Cohen has now been convicted of lying about.”
“The decision of whether to charge Trump Jr. with perjury is really going to come down to a question of precision,” Honig said. “How clear is it that he misstated the truth? Did he leave himself enough wiggle room, and is his version of facts squarely contradicted by documents, emails, or other evidence showing his level of involvement?”
Mueller did not bring criminal charges against Trump Jr. But the Senate Intelligence Committee’s subpoena indicates he may not be in the clear just yet.
A committee spokesperson told Axios in a statement, “We do not discuss the details of witness engagements with the Committee. Throughout the investigation, the Committee has reserved the right to recall witnesses for additional testimony as needed, as every witness and witness counsel has been made aware.”