The Buzz

Blunt defends subpoena of president’s son for Senate probe on Russian interference

Sen. Roy Blunt said Thursday that President Donald Trump’s oldest son should comply with a subpoena from the Senate Intelligence Committee for its probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Senate Intelligence Chair Richard Burr’s decision to subpoena Donald Trump Jr. has drawn a wave of backlash from Republicans. But Blunt, a member of the committee, defended his chairman.

The Missouri Republican said that the president’s oldest son should comply with the subpoena for additional closed-door testimony.

“Hopefully, Don Jr. and his lawyers will believe it’s important,” said Blunt, the No. 4 Republican in the Senate. “I think his brother-in-law came in a similar situation to be sure that every question was clearly understood and clearly answered. And I think he should, too.”

Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and adviser, appeared before the committee in March for a closed door session.

Blunt said that the committee gave Burr, R-North Carolina, and the committee’s top Democrat, Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia, extended subpoena authority in January.

“And they used it,” he said.

Trump Jr. has faced scrutiny for a 2016 meeting with a Russian lawyer who reportedly promised damaging information about his father’s Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton.

Burr’s decision to proceed with the subpoena— weeks after the release of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report —has triggered pushback from other Republicans.

“Apparently the Republican chair of the Senate Intel Committee didn’t get the memo from the Majority Leader that this case was closed,” Sen. Rand Paul, a Kentucky Republican, tweeted derisively in response to the news of the subpoena.

Blunt stood by his chairman and emphasized the challenge of overseeing the Intelligence Committee.

“It just so happens this day the challenge is a little more public, but every day if you’re that chairman [there is another] set of difficulties,” Blunt said. “And that’s why he’s the chairman.”

Blunt’s support for Burr inspired detractors on the right. Charlie Kirk, the president of the conservative group Turning Point USA, said on Twitter that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell should remove Blunt from the GOP leadership team after he voiced support the subpoena.

While Blunt supports the subpoena, he does not think Trump Jr.’s answers to the committee’s questions will change the outcome of the Senate probe into Russia’s role in the 2016 election.

“The chairman has said and has repeated, ‘No evidence of any collusion.’ Just trying to be sure that everybody’s asked all the questions that need to be asked before we need to do a final report, but I don’t think there’s any possibility that any of those questions would change the conclusion,” he said.

Blunt said that the Senate investigation should conclude by August.

The Senate report will have additional information that wasn’t included in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report on Russian election interference but will not reach “any different conclusion than Mueller reached on the overall topic— but more specifics about the kinds of things the Russians were doing and are continuing to do,” Blunt said.

Bryan Lowry covers Kansas and Missouri politics as Washington correspondent for The Kansas City Star. He previously served as Kansas statehouse correspondent for The Wichita Eagle and as The Star’s lead political reporter. Lowry contributed to The Star’s investigation into government secrecy that was a finalist for The Pulitzer Prize.
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