Donald Trump Jr agrees to testify as Trump complains ‘it seems very unfair’

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Deal to go before Senate intelligence committee averts showdown over subpoena of presidents eldest son in Russia investigation

Donald Trump Jr will testify in a closed-door interview with the Senate intelligence committee next month, pulling the two sides back from a confrontation over a subpoena as part of the panel’s Russia investigation.

Under the terms of the deal between the president’s son and lawmakers, Trump Jr will talk to the committee in mid-June for up to four hours, according to two people familiar with the agreement. The people spoke on condition of anonymity on Tuesday to discuss the confidential terms.

The deal comes after the panel subpoenaed Trump Jr to discuss answers he gave the panel’s staff in a 2017 interview. He had backed out of interviews twice, prompting the subpoena, according to people familiar with the Senate intelligence committee chairman’s remarks to a GOP luncheon last week. Those people spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss Richard Burr’s remarks in the private senators’ meeting.

The deadline for Trump Jr to respond was Monday, according to one of the people familiar with the terms, and he expected to be held in contempt for declining to be interviewed. But the committee reached out Monday evening and the deal was struck.

A spokeswoman for Burr declined to comment. The North Carolina Republican has weathered fierce criticism for the subpoena from the president and his GOP colleagues.

Trump said 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% OK and now they want him to testify again,” Trump told reporters at the White House before traveling to Louisiana. “I don’t know why. I have no idea why. But it seems very unfair to me.”

It’s the first known subpoena of a member of the president’s immediate family, and some Republicans went as far as to say they thought Trump Jr shouldn’t comply.

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

The Senate judiciary committee chairman, the Republican Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, 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 any more.”’

The Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, has defended Burr, telling his colleagues during the private GOP luncheon last week that he trusted the intelligence committee chairman. On Tuesday, McConnell told reporters that “none of us tell Chairman Burr how to run his committee”.

Still, McConnell made it clear that he is eager to be finished with the inquiry, which has now gone on for more than two years.

Burr has “indicated publicly he believes they will find no collusion” with Russia, McConnell said. “We’re hoping we will get a report on that subject sometime soon.”

Burr told the Associated Press this month that he hopes to be finished with the investigation by the end of the year.

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 eldest son about other topics, including a campaign meeting in Trump Tower with a Russian lawyer.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

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