Politics

How Donald Trump Jr. made a deal to limit the topics of Senate Intelligence Committee hearing

Key Points
  • Donald Trump Jr. received a subpoena a few weeks ago ordering him to return to testify in front of the Senate Intelligence Committee.
  • After a pressure campaign from Trump Jr.'s legal team, the sides came to agreement to limit questions to six topics, people familiar with the situation said.
  • The June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower between Trump Jr. and a lawyer with ties to the Kremlin who claimed to have dirt on then Democratic presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is one area of focus
Donald Trump Jr. thrusts his fist after speaking at the 2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, July 19, 2016.
Mike Segar | Reuters

Donald Trump Jr. received a subpoena a few weeks ago ordering him to return to testify in front of the Senate Intelligence Committee. The hearing was expected to be unlimited in scope.

That all changed after a pressure campaign from his legal team and associates, which led to the committee's agreement to limit the questions to six topics. The hearing is expected to take place in mid-June, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

Beyond discussing the testimony of Michael Cohen, a former lawyer and fixer for his father President Donald Trump, Intel Committee members want to review some testimony from Trump Jr.'s previous hearing in December 2017, according to those familiar with the deliberations.

The June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower between Trump Jr. and a lawyer with ties to the Kremlin who claimed to have dirt on then Democratic presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is one of half a dozen areas of focus, according to a person with direct knowledge of the matter.

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While representatives from the committee declined to comment, Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, denied that any deals were made with Trump Jr.

"We've made no compromises with any of our witnesses," Warner said Tuesday. "We have made, with all of the witnesses we have not set parameters, all witnesses are proceeding on the same basis as prior witnesses," he added.

An attorney for Trump Jr. did not return a request for comment.

In February, Cohen testified in front of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee that Trump Jr. and his sister Ivanka Trump took part in the Trump Tower Moscow deal that never materialized.

"The company [Trump Organization] was involved in the deal, which meant that the family was involved in the deal," Cohen said at the time. Trump Jr. told the Senate Judiciary Committee in September 2017 that he knew "very little" of the efforts being made to build a Trump Tower in Moscow.

"I was peripherally aware of it, but most of my knowledge has been gained since as it relates to hearing about it over the last few weeks," Trump Jr. told that panel behind closed doors, according to a published transcript.

In the buildup to the agreement between Trump Jr. and the committee, the president's Republican allies went on offense against the committee's GOP chairman, Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., one of the president's staunchest supporters, said in an interview with Fox News that Trump Jr. should ignore the subpoena and labeled Cohen's previous testimony as meritless.

"Anything based on what Michael Cohen said is worthless testimony. Michael Cohen is a worthless witness, and if I were Donald Trump Jr.'s lawyer I would tell him, 'You don't need to go back into this environment anymore, you've been there for hours and hours and hours,'" Graham said.

Republican House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy tweeted his outrage, calling for an end for the investigations surrounding the president and his family.

"Endless investigations—by either party—won't change the fact that there was NO collusion. It's time to move on. It's time to focus on ISSUES, not investigations," he said.

President Trump himself weighed in on his son coming back to testify at a Monday news conference.

"It's really a tough situation because my son spent, I guess, over 20 hours testifying about something that Mueller said was 100 percent OK," Trump said. "And now they want him to testify again. I don't know why. I have no idea why, but it seems very unfair to me."