Mick Mulvaney, acting White House chief of staff, told CBS News Major Garrett that he was not given a heads up about Donald Trump Jr’s being subpoenaed by the Republican led Senate Intelligence Committee.
Garrett asked Mulvaney if the subpoena scared him and Mulvaney answered, “I have no opinion about that because he is a private citizen and not a member of the administration. That being said, the fact that the President’s son got a subpoena from a Republican-led committee—and listen, I’m all for bipartisanship on Intel Committees. I think it’s one of Adam Schiff’s great failings, is to—is to sort of politicize the Intel Committee in the House. So I have no difficulty with bipartisanship, but to subpoena the president of the United States son and not at least get a heads-up, I thought was — let’s say bad form. “
Major Garrett brought up Mitch McConnell’s going on the floor of the Senate and declaring “case closed” as far as the Russia investigation is concerned. Mulvaney further distanced President Trump from his son’s apparent legal jeopardy by pointing out, “They’re two different people. They do share the same name and certainly Don Jr. is the President’s son. But I think what Mr. McConnell was speaking to was that the President has been exonerated. There was no collusion and no obstruction, period, end of story. Now it’s time to move onto the business of government. Does that mean that other individuals may or may have not done other things? I have no idea but I think that’s what Mr. McConnell was speaking to, the implications for the President of the United States. There was no reason that McConnell would go to the floor to talk about Don Jr. That’s just not gonna happen. He was talking about the President.”
News of the subpoena for the president’s eldest son came on Wednesday afternoon, although the specific reason for it was not immediately clear. Mulvaney said, citing news reports, that it was about “a Trump Tower discussion or something like that”.
A source familiar with the thinking of Richard Burr, Chairman of the committee, told the Washington Post that he is becoming frustrated because he believes Jr is not honoring his agreement and is defying the committee’s authority. The GOP led committee is seeking closed door testimony from the president’s son, who is the the focus of various probes, including into his role in the Trump Tower meeting in June 2016, where he was offered ‘dirt’ on his father’s political opponent by a Russian lawyer. Democrats on the committee have long been concerned that he lied about what Donald Trump knew about that meeting.
Republicans have criticized Burr, who has announced his retirement in 2022, for issuing a subpoena for the president’s son. The Intelligence Committee’s subpoena is the first known subpoena issued to a member of President Trump’s family.
Advocates of Don Jr and the president have taken aim at Burr’s decision to subpoena the president’s son. John Cornyn [R-TX], said he plans on speaking with Burr about the subpoena. Via a spokesman he backtracked after telling CBS News that the subpoena “smacks of politics”. He was not accusing Burr of playing politics, the spokesman said, but rather saying that “at some point the congressional investigations smack of politics, not specifically this decision.”
Other Republicans were less circumspect after Charlie Kirk, an outspoken ally of President Trump tweeted a threat on Thursday morning about going against the Trump family.
After Charlie Kirk’s tweet on Thursday morning, Senator Thom Tillis [R-NC], who will be seeking reelection in 2020, tweeted his disapproval of the Intelligence Committee’s decision to subpoena Don Jr.
Senator Rand Paul also tweeted his disapproval, after the news of the subpoena broke on Wednesday.
Politico reports that sources close to Don Jr say he is considering ignoring the subpoena and not appearing before the committee. The source says that Jr will cooperate by answering written questions but that “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”.
President Trump has vowed to defy any subpoenas Congress issues to him. Mulvaney says he does not know if others, including the president, were given advance notice of the subpoena to force Don Jr to testify again in front of the Intelligence Committee. Burr has stated that he hopes the committee will conclude their investigation by August.
Mark Warner, ranking member of the committee, has said he believes Burr is feeling “pressure” to wrap up the investigation but that they “started with this [idea] that we’re going to follow the truth wherever it leads. I think that’s still our mantra.”