After days of furious back and forth over a subpoena issued by the Senate Intelligence Committee, Donald Trump Jr. has agreed to meet with the committee in a closed door session, according to the New York Times.
The committee has been involved in a two-year bipartisan investigation of Russia’s influence on the 2016 election. Until recently, the investigation hadn’t received nearly as much attention as Mueller’s probe or the Democratic House’s efforts. But Trump’s subpoena changed that.
Trump was apparently outraged by the subpoena, as believed he’d already done enough by providing interviews to special counsel Robert Mueller. Initially, it seemed he might refuse to appear at all.
The issue quickly became an opportunity for Republicans to vie for Don Jr.’s favor, defending him passionately and criticizing Sen. Richard Burr, the Republican who chairs the committee, for issuing the subpoena in the first place.
Burr had told his colleagues privately that Trump had already agreed to appear again before the committee on multiple occasions, and the subpoena was only issued after he kept delaying the appearance.
Things could have gotten much, much worse, according to the Times:
Donald Trump Jr.’s lawyer had prepared a blistering letter to send to the committee, telling its members that Mr. Trump would not submit to open-ended questions before a panel that included multiple Democrats running for president, according to people familiar with its contents. Facing a deadline to respond to the subpoena, the lawyer had planned to send the letter on Monday.
But the lawyer received a call from committee aides asking if there were a “reasonable” path forward, according to a person familiar with the events, who was not authorized to publicly discuss the conversations.
Now, Trump has agreed to appear for a closed door session with the committee in mid-June. The questions will reportedly be limited to about six topics, and the hearing will not last longer than two to four hours, a person familiar with the compromise told the Times. Another source told them the topics of discussion were not limited.
Obviously, the main topic of interest for Democratic legislators is the infamous 2016 meeting at Trump Tower with a Russian lawyer who told Don Jr. in an email that he had “dirt” on Hillary Clinton. The participants in the meeting, which included Don Jr., also apparently discussed President Trump’s plans to build a Trump Tower in Moscow.
Don Jr. and his friends seem pleased with the result of their temper tantrum.
“This compromise shows all Don wanted was for the committee to be reasonable,” Cliff Sims, a former White House communications aide, told the Times. “Demanding unlimited time and scope was absurd—the guy’s already testified before Senate Intel for nine hours, after all.”
A source close to Don Jr. said that he was grateful for the support from Republicans in Congress and would remember it when they need help on their 2020 campaigns. Seems like the fawning tributes were worth it!
As the Times points out, this agreement also lets Burr off the hook. If Trump had refused to appear, Burr would have had to decide whether to hold him in contempt of Congress, which would be pretty awkward, seeing as Don Jr. is the president’s son. Now, he doesn’t have to make that call. Everything’s back to normal!