Donald Trump Jr. Is Subpoenaed to Testify to Senate Panel on Russia Contacts – The New York Times

WASHINGTON — The Senate Intelligence Committee has subpoenaed Donald Trump Jr., the president’s eldest son, who met with Russians in June 2016 after being promised political dirt about Hillary Clinton, according to people familiar with the committee’s decision.

The younger Mr. Trump is the first of President Trump’s children to be subpoenaed in the continuing congressional investigations into Russia’s 2016 election interference, and the move by the Republican-led committee is a sign that some members of the president’s party are not aligned with his desire for a swift end to all of the Russia inquiries.

News of the subpoena came a day after Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the majority leader, sought to lower the curtain on the drama in Congress surrounding Russia’s efforts to sabotage the 2016 election. The end of the Mueller investigation, he said, meant “case closed.”

But the subpoena of the younger Mr. Trump shows that the Intelligence Committee, which is under Mr. McConnell’s jurisdiction, is proceeding with its vigorous investigation that — for the most part — has not degenerated into a partisan morass like a parallel investigation by the House.

The committee is particularly interested in the younger Mr. Trump’s account of the events surrounding the Trump Tower meeting — as well as his role in his father’s efforts to build a skyscraper in Moscow — and comparing the testimony to his previous answers to Senate investigators in 2017. Mr. Trump is a scion of President Trump’s global business empire and was one of his father’s close advisers during the election.

Republicans expressed frustration with news of the subpoena. Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, the House minority leader, posted on Twitter that the younger Mr. Trump “has already spent dozens of hours testifying in front of Congressional committees.”

“Endless investigations—by either party—won’t change the fact that there was NO collusion,” he added. “It’s time to move on. It’s time to focus on ISSUES, not investigations.”

A lawyer for Donald Trump Jr. declined to comment, as did spokespeople for the committee’s leaders.

The decision to subpoena the president’s son is an aggressive move, and appears to have come after discussions broke down about whether the younger Mr. Trump might appear voluntarily before the panel. Mr. Trump was highly unlikely to appear before the panel in person, three people close to him said, and one person said that he could invoke his Fifth Amendment rights in a written response.

The June 9, 2016, Trump Tower meeting was the main focus of investigators’ questions during Senate Judiciary Committee testimony the next year. Investigators were particularly interested in what — if anything — Mr. Trump told his father about what had transpired. Repeatedly, he told them that he said nothing to President Trump — either before the meeting or after.

“I wouldn’t have wasted his time with it,” he said.

But Michael D. Cohen, the president’s longtime lawyer, recalled being in a meeting at Trump Tower in Manhattan when Donald Trump Jr. told his father about a planned meeting “to obtain adverse information about Clinton,” according to the report by Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel, citing Mr. Cohen’s testimony.

“From the tenor of the conversation, Cohen believed that Trump Jr. had previously discussed the meeting with his father, although Cohen was not involved in any such conversation,” Mr. Mueller’s investigators wrote.

The special counsel considered bringing charges against some of the participants in that meeting but ran up against questions about whether they knew the meeting might violate federal bans on foreign contributions to elections, the report said.

“On the facts here, the government would unlikely be able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the June 9 meeting participants had general knowledge that their conduct was unlawful,” the report stated.

The younger Mr. Trump’s congressional testimony in 2017 came two months after The New York Times revealed that he had set up a meeting at Trump Tower during the campaign with Russians after he was told they had damaging information about Mrs. Clinton. The information, he was told, was part of “Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump.”

“If it’s what you say I love it,” he responded at the time.

When The Times first revealed the existence of the Trump Tower meeting, Donald Trump Jr. did not acknowledge that it had been set up to obtain damaging information about Mrs. Clinton. In a public statement, he said that the primary topic of the meeting was a program for American families to adopt Russian children that Moscow had ended years ago in response to sanctions imposed by the Obama administration.

Eventually, he acknowledged that top campaign advisers had been eager for the Russian dirt on Mrs. Clinton and were disappointed that they did not get what the Russians had promised. Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort, two top campaign aides, also attended the meeting.

Donald Trump Jr. also told Senate investigators in 2017 that he was only “peripherally aware” of his father’s efforts to build a Trump Tower Moscow in 2015 and 2016, in the midst of his campaign for president.

But Mr. Cohen said that he had told the younger Mr. Trump and his sister Ivanka Trump about the project “approximately” 10 times.

Mr. Cohen pleaded guilty to lying to Congress about the extent of the Trump Tower Moscow project. He is now serving a three-year prison sentence.

The subpoena was issued more than two weeks ago, one person said, and was first reported on Wednesday by the website Axios.

Noting that Mr. Trump had spent numerous hours before Senate committees and provided thousands of documents over the past two years, people close to him said that he was assured when he spoke to Intelligence Committee investigators in 2017 that he would only have to appear once, provided he stayed as long as the committee wanted.

But Senator Mark Warner, Democrat of Virginia and the committee’s vice chairman, has said many times that he did not expect that the committee’s investigation could end without getting public testimony from the younger Mr. Trump.

The negotiations over whether the younger Mr. Trump would speak to the committee began many weeks ago. But after the special counsel filed his report with the Justice Department, and it made clear that Mr. Mueller’s investigators had explored the idea of charging Mr. Trump in connection with the meeting with the Russian lawyer but ultimately decided not to, the president’s eldest son said he would not come in for an interview, people close to Donald Trump Jr. said.

After two years of investigation, the Intelligence Committee is in the final phases of ironing out testimony and drawing up conclusions for eventual release. As a part of that process, the panel has called back several witnesses central to the investigation who previously were questioned only by the committee’s staff.

Some of those witnesses who have returned in recent weeks, like Mr. Cohen, came only after being subpoenaed. Mr. Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and a senior White House official, returned to the committee voluntarily.

The committee’s leaders do not necessarily expect their conclusions to differ from Mr. Mueller’s, but both Mr. Warner and Senator Richard M. Burr of North Carolina, the committee’s chairman, have argued that finishing their bipartisan investigation will serve as an important validation of the special counsel, especially given the political climate.

Despite years of scrutiny by prosecutors and congressional investigators into his role on the 2016 campaign, the younger Mr. Trump has remained a fixture on the rally circuit and one of the most forceful defenders of his father’s presidency.

At the Conservative Political Action Conference in March, two days after Mr. Cohen’s damning congressional testimony, he said the first two years of the Trump administration have been a “promises made, promises kept agenda.”

“He’s showing the world that when he says he’s going to do something, he means business,” he told an enthusiastic crowd.

And he had a piece of advice for the Justice Department about the Mueller report, which had not been released.

“Put it all out there,” he said. “Don’t redact anything.”