Today was a monumental day for Democratic schadenfreude as the Senate Intelligence Committee subpoenaed the first member of the Trump family to be forced to testify in front of their committee, according to a report on Axios.
The fact that it was the Republican-controlled committee that issued the subpoena to Donald Trump Jr. to answer questions about his previous voluntary testimony to the senators took congressional observers by surprise, particularly coming a day after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (KY) made such an ostentatious display of insisting that the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election was over with an emphatic declaration of “case closed”.
However, despite the overall extreme partisanship that is hampering not only congressional investigations into the worst excesses of the Trump administration but the ordinary business of passing legislation, the Senate Intelligence Committee has been operated in an unusually bipartisan manner by Committee Chairman Richard Burr (R-NC) and the ranking Democrat Mark Warner (D-VA).
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“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,” a commiteee spokesperson told Axios.
While the committee declined to discuss it, the issuance of a subpoena indicates that the eldest of President Trump’s children had refused to appear in front of the committee again on a voluntary basis.
Trump Jr.’s next appearance in front of the committee will allow Senators to question him on a bevy of his previous answers to their questions that subsequent revelations have indicated may be evidence of perjury committed by the president’s son.
For instance, Trump Jr. told the Senate Judiciary Committee in September of 2107 that he was only “peripherally aware” of the plans to build a Trump Tower in Moscow, a statement that could only be true if peripheral awareness is the normal state of the junior head of the Trump Organization’s consciousness, given that the former attorney for the real estate company, Michael Cohen, testified to Congress that he had briefed both Trump Jr. and his sister Ivanka about the project at least 10 times.
The fact that the company has been revealed to have drafted architectural plans and drawings illustrating what the tower would look like also belie the claims of vague ignorance by the president’s son.
Having already declared war on Congress by invoking executive privilege and insisting that no executive branch employees would cooperate and testify in their investigations into the administration’s behavior, President Trump’s reaction to the subpoena of his son and heir apparent will be interesting to watch.
Since Donald Trump Jr. is a private citizen, the president cannot use executive privilege to quash the subpoena, so if his son decides to defy the demand for his testimony, the constitutional crisis that has already erupted over congressional access to the unredacted Mueller rep[ort and Trump’s income tax returns will become even larger.
Trump Jr. also faces a citation for contempt of Congress if he refuses to honor the committee’s subpoena, although, sadly, in a Republican-controlled Senate he would be unlikely to be held accountable for any wrongdoing due to his father’s partisan protectors, including the man who would preside over any inherent contempt trial, Senate Majority Leader Mitch Mcconnell (R-KY).
No date has been announced for when we may expect to see Trump Jr. testify, but expect a hard-fought battle to be waged before the president’s oldest son sits in a Capitol Hill hearing room anytime soon.
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Original reporting by Jonathan Swan, Alayna Treene, and David Nather at Axios.