President Trump said Thursday he was “very surprised” that the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence had subpoenaed his son, Donald Trump Jr., to testify before the panel.
“I saw Richard Burr saying there was no collusion two or three weeks ago,” Trump said at a White House event, referring to the North Carolina Republican who chairs the intelligence committee.
“I was very surprised to see my son, my son’s a very good person, works very hard. The last thing he needs is Washington, D.C.,” Trump added.
The committee reportedly wants to ask Trump Jr. about his previous testimony regarding the Trump Organization’s negotiations to build a Trump Tower in Moscow during the 2016 presidential campaign. Trump Jr. has also faced intense scrutiny over a meeting he accepted at Trump Tower in New York City in June 2016 with a group of Russians who claimed to have information on Hillary Clinton’s activities in Russia.
President Trump says he’s "very surprised" by subpoena of Donald Trump Jr.:
“My son's a good person. Works very hard. The last thing he needs is Washington, DC." pic.twitter.com/Cx0usB5aTG
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“If it is what you say I love it,” Trump Jr. said in accepting the offer. The meeting was held on June 9, 2016, but all of the participants interviewed by the special counsel’s office said that it was a waste of time. They said that the Russian lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya (who was working with Fusion GPS on a separate project at the time) provided no information about Clinton.
President Trump noted that Special Counsel Robert Mueller investigated the meeting but declined prosecution.
“The Mueller report came out — that’s the Bible — the Mueller report came out and they said he did nothing wrong,” said Trump.
Trump also seemed to defend his son’s decision to accept the meeting on the grounds that he was seeking standard opposition research.
“If he did wrong then everybody standing with me,” Trump began before singling out senators standing behind him at the White House event.
The committee’s subpoena caught many Republicans off guard because of Chairman Burr’s recent remarks regarding the lack of evidence his committee has found regarding collusion with the Russian government.
Burr also recently downplayed Democrats’ claims that Trump Jr. and other Trump associates lied to Congress. Burr told The Washington Post on Tuesday that since Mueller had access to transcripts of congressional testimony, he must have determined that Trump Jr. and other witnesses’ testimonies “weren’t criminal or they weren’t chargeable.”
Mueller indicted longtime Trump confidant Roger Stone on Jan. 24 on charges that he made false statements to the House Intelligence Committee regarding his discussions about WikiLeaks. Former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen pleaded guilty in the special counsel’s probe on Nov. 29 to making false statements to the Senate and House Intelligence Committees regarding his negotiations on a Trump Tower Moscow.
Trump Jr. told the Senate Judiciary Committee in September 2017 that he was “peripherally aware” of the Trump Tower Moscow negotiations. Cohen has claimed that he briefed Trump Jr. and other members of Trump’s family about the project more than 10 times.
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