White House: 'Bad Form' to Not Send Word of Trump Jr. Subpoena
Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney says it was "bad form" for the Republican-led Senate Intelligence Committee to subpoena President Donald Trump's oldest son without telling the White House ahead of time.
Trump and his administration are engaged in intense battles with opposition Democratic lawmakers in the House of Representatives for testimony and documents on an array of fronts, but the Senate panel's Wednesday subpoena of Donald Trump Jr. was a surprise.
It is the first known subpoena of a member of President Trump's immediate family, although the younger Trump and Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner, a White House adviser, have voluntarily testified before congressional panels.
The younger Trump was summoned to answer more questions about his 2017 testimony to the Senate panel as part of its probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
The committee has renewed interest in talking to Donald Trump Jr. after the president's former lawyer, Michael Cohen, told a House committee in February that he had briefed Trump Jr. about 10 times on a plan to build a Trump Tower in Moscow. The younger Trump told the Senate Judiciary Committee in 2017 he was only "peripherally aware'' of the proposal.
Cohen started a three-year prison term this week, partly related to his guilty plea that he lied to Congress about when then-candidate Trump in 2016 ended his pursuit of the Moscow project, so his testimony would coincide with Trump's claim to voters in the early stages of the presidential race that he was no longer pursuing the Russian venture.
Mulvaney, in an interview with CBS News, downplayed the significance of the subpoena for the younger Trump since he does not work in the White House. Trump Jr. and his brother Eric oversee the president's Trump Organization business empire while Trump is in office.
"That being said," Mulvaney said, "the fact that the president's son got a subpoena from a Republican-led committee … and not at least get a heads-up, I thought was — let's say, bad form."
The Senate Intelligence Committee has been investigating Russian election interference and Trump's ties to Russia for the last two years. The Trump Jr. subpoena was a new sign that the Senate panel is continuing with its own Russia investigation even after the release last month of a redacted version of special counsel Robert Mueller's 448-page report.
It was not immediately clear if Trump Jr. will comply with the subpoena, even though it was issued by a Republican-led congressional committee.
The Democratic-controlled House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday overrode Republican opposition to hold Attorney General William Barr in contempt of Congress for his refusal to turn over Mueller's unredacted report.
President Trump has vowed that he will fight all subpoenas from Democratic-controlled committees trying to investigate him and his administration.