Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) urged Donald Trump Jr. not to comply with a Senate Intelligence Committee subpoena on Friday, further dividing congressional Republicans, who are split over whether such a demand is necessary.
Jordan’s comments come days after Republican committee Chairman Richard Burr (NC) subpoenaed the president’s son, who is charged with running his father’s business in President Donald Trump’s stead.
Burr is specifically interested in asking the younger Trump about his actions surrounding the infamous Trump Tower meeting in June 2016, where Trump Jr., along with then-campaign adviser Jared Kushner, and campaign chairman Paul Manafort sought damaging information about Hillary Clinton from a Russian lawyer with ties to the Kremlin. The committee also plans to ask Trump Jr. about his role in a proposed Trump Tower Moscow project in 2016, the timeline for which has been questioned.
“I think it is ridiculous. [He already] testified for 25 hours,” Jordan said Friday, referring to Trump Jr.’s previous Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in September 2017. “They are bringing him back based on the testimony of Michael Cohen who went to prison on Monday for what? Lying to Congress. … So, bring Donald Trump [Jr.] back in to testify again, based on the testimony of a guy who’s in prison for lying to Congress? I just don’t see this.”
Cohen, the president’s longtime lawyer and personal “fixer,” testified before Congress earlier this year that he met with the younger Trump — as well as Ivanka Trump, the president’s daughter and adviser — about the Moscow tower project 10 times, a direct contradiction of what Trump Jr. told lawmakers back in 2017. During that hearing, the president’s son claimed he “wasn’t involved” with the project and was only “peripherally aware of it.”
The timing of that project has since come under scrutiny, as Cohen — who pleaded guilty to financial fraud, campaign finance violations, and lying to Congress — testified that negotiations over the project, which was later scrapped, continued well into the summer of 2016, around the time of the Republican convention. It was an embarrassing admission: As a candidate, the elder Trump had famously claimed he had no business ties to Russia on multiple occasions.
Despite this, Jordan claimed Friday that there was no need for follow-up questioning, pushing Trump Jr. to ignore the Senate subpoena.
“I would encourage him not to come,” he said. “I mean look, you give 25 hours [of previous testimony] to Congress — what else is there to ask? You’re bringing [him] back because of something Michael Cohen said on his way to prison? Come on. I think American people see through this.”
Cohen’s testimony was not the only impetus for the Senate Intelligence subpoena. Since the younger Trump’s last appearance before lawmakers, both the media and special counsel Robert Mueller have revealed the extent to which Trump Jr. covered up his communications with Russian figures and his involvement with the Moscow tower project.
Mueller’s findings were detailed in a lightly redacted report made public last month.
Jordan’s comments Friday encouraging the younger Trump not to comply with a congressional subpoena are part of a larger internal war within the GOP over the fallout from Mueller’s investigation. Some in the party, like Jordan and Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), believe Burr’s decision to bring Trump Jr. back before lawmakers is unnecessary, with Paul claiming this week that it was “a mistake for Republicans to keep putting the Trump family through this.”
Others, such as Sen. Thom Tillis (R-FL) and Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA), have pivoted away entirely, suggesting Democrats were responsible for the drawn out debate.
“The Mueller Report cleared @DonaldJTrumpJr and he’s already spent 27 hours testifying before Congress. Dems have made it clear this is all about politics. It’s time to move on & start focusing on issues that matter to Americans,” Tillis tweeted Thursday night.
Scalise was more direct, tweeting incorrectly on Friday morning that Democrats were behind the subpoena itself.
“You can’t make this stuff up: Democrats are subpoenaing @DonaldJTrumpJr based on the testimony of Michael Cohen—a man who lied to Congress multiple times. This is how low they are willing to sink to harass @realDonaldTrump & his entire family,” he wrote. “The #MuellerReport is done. Move on!”
Burr, who was responsible for the subpoena, is of course a Republican. The Louisiana congressman later deleted the tweet but did not issue a follow-up statement.
Asked on Thursday whether Trump Jr. will reject the subpoena, the president said, “We’ll see what happens.”
“I was very surprised to see my son—my son is a good person, he works hard. The last thing he needs is Washington, D.C. He’d rather not be involved,” he said. “My son is a good person. He testified for hours and hours. My son was totally exonerated by Mueller who doesn’t like Trump, me. And for my son, after being exonerated to now get a subpoena to speak again after telling everyone about a nothing meeting, I’m pretty surprised.”
The president previously pledged to reject all subpoenas issued to his associates and those administration. Most recently, he blocked former White House counsel Don McGahn from providing documents to the House Judiciary Committee, related to the Mueller investigation. (McGaghn is mentioned in Mueller’s report several times and told investigators Trump asked him on at least one occasion to fire Mueller. Trump has denied the claim.)
Jordan notably intervened between Democrats and the White House late last month, after the White House refused to comply with a subpoena for former official Carl Kline, who previously served as director of the White House Presidential Personnel Office. Jordan wrote to House Oversight Chairman Elijah Cummings (D-MD), who had issued the subpoena, asking him to allow Kline to sit for a voluntary transcribed interview, to help Kline avoid possible contempt charges.