After he refused to submit to an interview with Russia investigation special counsel Robert Mueller, Donald Trump’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., may now be forced to reveal his reasons for not talking — reasons that were redacted from the Mueller report, which is posted online by The New York Times. But according to a new report on Wednesday, Trump Jr. may now be forced to talk — not to Mueller whose investigation is concluded, but to the Senate Intelligence Committee.
According to a report by the political site Axios, the Senate committee, which is controlled by Republicans including committee Chair Richard Burr of North Carolina, has slapped Trump Jr. with a subpoena to testify — particularly about statements made in his September 2017 testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee.
The Trump administration has said it will defy congressional subpoenas for White House documents, as well as for testimony by current and former White House staff and advisers, according to a CNN report. But Trump Jr. holds no government position and is a private citizen, meaning that his legal basis for defying a subpoena, should he choose to do so, would be unclear at best.
The Mueller report states that Trump Jr. “declined to be voluntarily interviewed” by the special counsel. But the following two lines in the report are redacted because — the redaction by Attorney general William Barr states — to reveal them would reveal information from grand jury testimony.
The report’s mention of Trump Jr.’s refusal to be interviewed comes during Mueller’s discussion of the June 9, 2016, meeting at Trump Tower in New York, between Trump Jr. and a group of Russians led by Kremlin-tied lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya, who also refused to be interviewed and remains outside of the United States. But according to some legal experts, as The Inquisitr has reported, Trump Jr. could have been indicted on campaign finance violation charges, because he took the meeting on the promise that the Russians would convey “incriminating” information about Democrat Hillary Clinton.
Such information could be considered a “thing of value” to the Trump campaign, and campaign law forbids receiving contributions from foreign sources, as law professor Richard Hasen noted in an opinion article published by Slate magazine online.
According to CNBC, however, the Senate Intelligence Committee is primarily interested in questioning Trump Jr. about statements he made in his 2017 testimony, in which he claimed that he was only “peripherally aware” that the Trump Organization was attempting to strike a deal to build a Trump Tower in Moscow, before and during the 2016 presidential campaign.
But former Trump Organization executive — and personal lawyer to the elder Trump — Michael Cohen testified to Congress that he met with Trump Jr. to discuss the Moscow project “approximately 10” times, CBS News reported.