Politics|Donald Trump Jr. Is Subpoenaed to Testify to Senate Panel on Russia Contacts
WASHINGTON — The Senate Intelligence Committee has subpoenaed Donald Trump Jr., the president’s eldest son, who met with Russians in June 2016 after being promised political dirt about Hillary Clinton, according to people familiar with the committee’s decision.
The Republican-led committee is particularly interested in the younger Mr. Trump’s account of the events surrounding that meeting — as well as his role in his father’s efforts to build a skyscraper in Moscow — and comparing the testimony to his previous answers to Senate investigators in 2017.
Donald Trump Jr. is the first of President Trump’s children to be subpoenaed in the continuing congressional investigations into Russia’s 2016 election interference, and the move is likely to intensify the ire of a president who has spent more than two years railing against the Russia inquiries.
Mr. Trump is a scion of President Trump’s global business empire and was one of his father’s close advisers during the election.
A lawyer for the younger Mr. Trump declined to comment.
The June 9, 2016, Trump Tower meeting was the main focus of investigators’ questions during Senate Judiciary Committee testimony the following year. Investigators were particularly interested in what — if anything — Mr. Trump told his father about what had transpired. Repeatedly, he told them that he said nothing to President Trump — either before the meeting or after.
“I wouldn’t have wasted his time with it,” he said.
But Michael D. Cohen, the president’s longtime lawyer, recalled being in a meeting at Trump Tower when Donald Trump Jr. told his father about a planned meeting “to obtain adverse information about Clinton,” according to the report by Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel, citing Mr. Cohen’s testimony.
“From the tenor of the conversation, Cohen believed that Trump Jr. had previously discussed the meeting with his father, although Cohen was not involved in any such conversation,” Mr. Mueller’s investigators wrote.
The special counsel considered bringing charges against some of the participants in that meeting but ran up against questions about whether they knew the meeting might violate federal bans on foreign contributions to elections, the report said.
“On the facts here, the government would unlikely be able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the June 9 meeting participants had general knowledge that their conduct was unlawful,” the report stated.
The younger Mr. Trump’s congressional testimony in 2017 came two months after The New York Times revealed that he had set up a meeting at Trump Tower during the campaign with Russians after he was told they had damaging information about Mrs. Clinton. The information, he was told, was part of “Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump.”
“If it’s what you say I love it,” he responded at the time.
When The Times first revealed the existence of the Trump Tower meeting, Donald Trump Jr. did not acknowledge that it had been set up to obtain damaging information about Mrs. Clinton. In a public statement, he said that the primary topic of the meeting was a program for American families to adopt Russian children that Moscow had ended years ago in response to sanctions imposed by the Obama administration.
His story changed several times. Eventually, he acknowledged that top campaign advisers had been eager for the Russian dirt on Mrs. Clinton and were disappointed that they did not get what the Russians had promised. Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort, two top campaign aides, also attended the meeting.
Donald Trump Jr. also told Senate investigators in 2017 that he was only “peripherally aware” of his father’s efforts to build a Trump Tower Moscow in 2015 and 2016, in the midst of his campaign for president.
But Mr. Cohen said that he had told the younger Mr. Trump and his sister Ivanka Trump about the project “approximately” 10 times.
Mr. Cohen pleaded guilty to lying to Congress about the extent of the Trump Tower Moscow project. He is now serving a three-year prison sentence.
Despite years of scrutiny by prosecutors and congressional investigators into his role on the 2016 campaign, the younger Mr. Trump has remained a fixture on the rally circuit and one of the most forceful defenders of his father’s presidency.
At the Conservative Political Action Conference in March, two days after Mr. Cohen’s damning congressional testimony, he said the first two years of the Trump administration have been a “promises made, promises kept agenda.”
“He’s showing the world that when he says he’s going to do something, he means business,” he told an enthusiastic crowd.
And he had a piece of advice for the Department of Justice about the Mueller report, which had not been released.
“Put it all out there,” he said. “Don’t redact anything.”