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Donald Trump Jr. to testify after reaching deal with Senate committee

Jennifer Jacobs and Steven T. Dennis, Bloomberg News on

Published in Political News

WASHINGTON -- Donald Trump Jr. has agreed to give limited additional closed-door testimony in June in a deal with the Senate Intelligence Committee, according to three people familiar with the arrangement, which headed off an increasingly bitter dispute that divided Republicans.

Senate Intelligence Chairman Richard Burr had issued a subpoena for President Donald Trump's son, subjecting the veteran Republican lawmaker to sharp criticism from fellow Republicans.

The questioning will last for two to four hours and will focus on five or six specific topics, according to one of the people, who said this will be the last time Trump Jr. will have to appear before the committee. Another person said the committee will be able to pose the major questions it wants to ask.

Trump Jr.'s lawyers had drafted a letter saying he wouldn't comply with the committee's subpoena, but it wasn't sent because a staffer for the committee called Trump Jr.'s lawyer Monday to discuss terms for the testimony, according to one of the people. They worked out a deal on the time and scope.

Trump Jr.'s allies waged a full-fledged campaign -- backed by phone calls, in-person meetings with senators and his own retweets -- against the subpoena aimed at pressuring Burr to end what has been the only bipartisan investigation in Congress of Russia's election meddling. Burr, who's not running for re-election in 2022, appeared unmoved, largely declining to comment on the dispute.

Republicans including Rand Paul of Kentucky, Ted Cruz of Texas and Thom Tillis-- who faces a primary challenge in Burr's North Carolina next year -- opposed the subpoena on Twitter, with Tillis saying it's "time to move on." They aren't members of the Intelligence Committee, which has been investigating Russian interference for more than two years under Burr's leadership.

All the members of the Senate Intelligence panel have known about the subpoena since it was issued weeks ago, according to a person briefed on the committee's process.

Without a deal, Senate Republicans faced the unappetizing prospect of trying to enforce a subpoena against the president's son, either through a politically touchy vote to hold him in contempt or some other action.

The committee wants Trump Jr. to respond to testimony by the president's former fixer, Michael Cohen, on the efforts to secure a Trump Tower deal in Moscow, a person close to Trump Jr. said.

 

In Cohen's initial written testimony to the House and Senate Intelligence Committees in August 2017, he said that work on a deal for a Trump tower in Moscow ended in January 2016, before the Republican presidential primaries began. He would later plead guilty to filing a false statement to those panels, acknowledging that negotiations continued to June 2016, well into the presidential campaign.

Cohen was since sentenced to a three-year prison term, which he began serving last week.

A draft of the letter that Trump Jr.'s lawyers had prepared complains about media leaks of the subpoena, says that Trump Jr. had already testified longer than Hillary Clinton did in the Benghazi hearing and complained that the committee wanted open-ended testimony with questions from senators, including Democrats running for president.

"In short, the committee sought a 'do-over' so that members could attend in person," with free rein "to address all of the same topics as before and with no assurance that he would not be called back for a fifth, sixth or even seventh time," the draft letter obtained by Bloomberg News said.

"It is not fair for him to be hauled in to testify before this or any other committee about the same events over and over in the hope that he will one day get tripped up by misleading or otherwise disingenuous questioning," the draft letter said.

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