After the world waited to see whether he would be bold — or lawless — enough to defy a congressional subpoena, Donald Trump Jr.’s lawyers worked out an arrangement with the Senate Intelligence Committee today to have the president’s oldest son testify in a private interview with the senators on that committee.
According to a report in The New York Times, the interview will be limited in duration and will help ease the partisan controversy over Trump Jr.’s testimony after he was surprised with a subpoena from the Republican-controlled committee.
The Intelligence Committee’s chairman, Senator Richard Burr (R-NC), shocked fellow Republicans in the Senate who have already given up all pretense of non-partisan support for the rule of law and the independence of the legislative branch of government in favor of a policy of defending President Trump, his family, and his administration at all costs.
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Senator Burr defended himself against charges of political betrayal by correctly pointing out that Donald Trump Jr. had previously agreed to voluntarily appear before the committee for interviews but had backed out twice and forced his hand in calling for a mandatory submission to questioning.
The agreement ends a standoff that was heading to a crescendo as the lawyers for the president’s son were about to try to fight the subpoena with little in the way of legitimate legal arguments to back up their attempts to avoid his testifying.
There were conflicting reports of the nature of the limitations that the agreement between the committee and Trump Jr.’s legal team imposed on the interview. One source told The New York Times that the questioning — to take place sometime in the middle of June —would be “limited to about a half-dozen topics, with the time no longer than two to four hours”.
Another unidentified source denied that the scope of topics that Trump Jr. would be grilled about would be limited in any way.
With the Mueller report indicating that the only reason that the president’s son wasn’t indicted for his actions in meeting with Russian agents offering dirt on Hillary Clinton, his father’s rival for the presidency in 2016, was because the Special Counsel’s team did not believe that he was intelligent enough to know that his actions violated federal law, the committee has much to ask Don Jr. that could impact the public perception of the wisdom of that decision.
The fact is that many observers already believe that Trump Jr. was less than candid in his previous testimony before Congress and is open to charges of perjury after it was discovered that he was briefed extensively multiple times on the Trump Tower Moscow project that he testified that he was only “peripherally aware” of at the time.
With Trump supporter Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) destroying his reputation and ignoring his vow to defend the constitution by urging the president’s son to ignore the valid subpoena and break the law, the agreement must come as a relief as Graham hopes that the public quickly forgets his heinously partisan role as an accessory to a crime.
Meanwhile, it’s helpful to remember that an agreement to appear before the Intelligence Committee to answer questions is not the same thing as to actually answer them.
Donald Trump Jr.’s option of declaring his Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination remains a strong possibility. A betting person may want to examine the odds offered on how many times the president’s son will invoke that privilege during his next round of questioning if they are looking to potentially earn some cash from this whole incident.
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