The Senate Intelligence Committee issued a subpoena to President Donald Trump’s eldest son, a source familiar with the matter said.
Trump Jr. received the subpoena to appear before the committee as a follow-up to his prior testimony as part of the Republican-led panel’s ongoing Russia probe. Democrats have long suggested that Trump Jr. lied to congressional investigators about his actions and statements during the 2016 presidential campaign.
A spokesperson for the committee declined to discuss the subpoena.
“We do not discuss the details of witness engagements with the committee,” the spokesperson said. “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.” Trump Jr. and his personal attorney did not immediately respond to requests for comment. The news was first reported by Axios. The subpoena could lead to a clash with committee Republicans. The source familiar with the matter said Trump Jr. is weighing not appearing before the committee.
It’s the first known congressional subpoena issued to a member of the president’s family. House Democrats have issued several subpoenas as part of their various investigations, but none have been served directly to Trump’s family members. Trump himself has vowed to defy all congressional subpoenas that come his way.
Trump Jr.’s associates are already deeply frustrated that a Republican-controlled committee would issue the subpoena, and they’re training their fury on the panel’s chairman, Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.). They say Trump Jr. testified before the committee with the understanding that he’d only need to appear once in person as long as he stayed for as long as the panel needed him.
“Don continues to cooperate by producing documents and is willing to answer written questions,” said a person close to Trump Jr., who wasn’t authorized to speak on the record. “But no lawyer would ever agree to allow their client to participate in what is an obvious PR stunt from a so-called ‘Republican’ senator too cowardly to stand up to his boss [Democratic Sen.] Mark Warner and the rest of the resistance Democrats on the committee.”
It is unclear exactly why the committee is seeking to interview Trump Jr. again. In February, the president’s former personal attorney and fixer Michael Cohen said he briefed Trump Jr. and Ivanka Trump several times about the negotiations surrounding the Trump Tower Moscow project. In public, however, Trump Jr. has downplayed his involvement in the negotiations.
Trump Jr. also came under legal scrutiny during special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation for his role in a 2016 Trump Tower meeting with a Russian lawyer who promised dirt to the Trump campaign on Hillary Clinton. Trump Jr. said he never told his father about the meeting in advance, but Cohen told congressional investigators that he witnessed an interaction between Trump Jr. and his father that suggested that the then-candidate was kept in the loop about the meeting.
The special counsel, in the final redacted report released last month, said Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, and Paul Manafort — the other senior Trump campaign officials in the meeting — didn’t face charges because his investigators lacked evidence to prove they took the meeting with the general knowledge they might ultimately be committing a crime.
Mueller also said the promised opposition research didn’t necessarily qualify as an illegal donation.
The Mueller report also includes a mysterious redaction that hides the fallout from Trump Jr.’s refusal to participate in a voluntary interview with the special counsel. The blacked-out section has set off speculation Mueller tried to subpoena Trump Jr., or the president’s son invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.
While Trump Jr.’s lawyer hasn’t commented on the matter, Rudy Giuliani, the president’s personal attorney, in an interview last month tamped down talk that the redaction deals with the Fifth Amendment. “I can tell you I have no knowledge that anybody took the Fifth,” Giuliani said.