Republicans in Congress are so mad that the Senate Intelligence Committee subpoenaed Donald Trump Jr. earlier this week they are going to war against members of their own party. Republican Sen. Richard Burr, who chairs the committee, has found himself publicly goaded by many of his colleagues to abandon the subpoena.
This could work out well for Donj himself, who is already apparently planning to not comply with the subpoena.
The extraordinary pressure campaign, taking place in public and private, is forcing the party’s senators to choose between their loyalty to the Intelligence Committee and to the president’s family as it attempts to quash any remaining investigations of the president after the completion of the investigation by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III. [...]
Even as the chairman privately defended his approach, the attack appeared to be paying at least some dividends for the president’s eldest son, who could theoretically face calls to be held in contempt of Congress if he does not comply with the subpoena. (Several people close to the younger Mr. Trump said he was unlikely to appear in person and said one option was to invoke his Fifth Amendment rights in a written response.)
Sen. Thom Tillis, a Republican who is facing a primary challenge by a more conservative challenger next year, was facing serious pressure to oppose the subpoena. Trump allies told the Times that the president may endorse Tillis’ opponent if he doesn’t get in line.
The campaign seems to be working. Tillis tweeted on Thursday that the committee should move on from its bipartisan investigation of Russia’s interference in the 2016 election.
“I feel like the investigation ended when the special counsel transmitted the report to A.G. Barr,” Tillis said in an interview with the Times. He added that he isn’t “second-guessing” his colleague and fellow North Carolina senator Burr.
Other Republicans, including some members of the Intelligence Committee, also objected publicly. From Politico:
“The subpoenas can’t happen without a Republican being for it, and I would hope that Republicans would stand firm and say enough’s enough,” said Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), who is close to Donald Trump Jr. “This is a great sort of assault on someone, in the sense that you put yourself in jeopardy anytime you come in and testify.”
“This is one great big politicized, political football,” said Sen. Steve Daines (R-Mont.), another Trump Jr. ally. He described broad GOP “frustration on what’s going on at the moment. It’s time to move on from these investigations.”
“The Mueller report has concluded no collusion, and Barr said no obstruction. What’s the deal? Why is this continuing on? I think there needs to be a better conversation about that,” said Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), an Intelligence Committee member.
Politico reported that Burr has no current intention of withdrawing the subpoena. He declined to comment on the issue to reporters on Thursday, saying, “I told you I’m not going to chat right now. I’m in the middle of something.”
The Times reported that, in a closed-door meeting, Sen. Mitch McConnell apparently defended Burr, making the most ghoulish senator another target for the Trump Defenders.
Sen. Susan Collins also gave her qualified support.
“We have been able to do the one bipartisan congressional investigation of Russian counterintelligence efforts and its campaign to influence public opinions and elections in this country,” Collins told the Times. “I think it’s vital we complete that work.”
None of this is likely to matter beyond the realm of Republican infighting. Don Jr. has already essentially promised he won’t be testifying. But any situation that pulls back the curtain on the total loyalty Trump apparently requires of his party is at the very least fun to watch.