/Don Jr. agrees to appear before Senate panel after GOP flare-up

Don Jr. agrees to appear before Senate panel after GOP flare-up

Donald Trump Jr.

Donald Trump Jr.’s decision to be interviewed follows a backlash from President Donald Trump and top Republicans over Senate Intelligence Chair Burr’s decision to subpoena him. | David Handschuh/AP Photo

Donald Trump Jr. has agreed to appear before the Senate Intelligence Committee, ending — for now — a heated fight within the GOP over the Republican-led panel’s Russia investigation.

Trump Jr. will be interviewed behind closed doors for up to four hours, according to a source familiar with the situation, after Senate Intelligence Chairman Richard Burr (R-N.C.) subpoenaed him to follow up on his earlier testimony.

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Trump Jr. is set to appear in mid-June, and the questioning will be limited to five or six topics, the source said.

The agreement came together at the last minute, according to the person. The original deadline to respond was Monday at 5 p.m. About an hour before that deadline, a committee aide reached out to Trump Jr.’s representatives and said the panel would extend it to Tuesday at 5 p.m., giving the two sides more time to negotiate.

Trump Jr.’s lawyers were prepared to send to Burr and Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia, the panel’s top Democrat, a letter saying he wouldn’t testify and arguing that he wouldn’t submit to what they cast as an inquiry with no end in sight, according to a copy of the letter viewed by POLITICO.

Trump Jr. declined to comment.

Trump Jr.’s decision to be interviewed comes after a backlash from President Donald Trump and top Republicans over Burr’s decision to subpoena him, despite completion of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report. Republicans had criticized the committee’s move, calling it inappropriate because Trump Jr. had already testified before congressional panels.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell backed Burr Tuesday, signaling that the Republican chairman will be able to stay the course on his committee’s subpoena.

“None of us tell Chairman Burr how to run his committee,” McConnell told reporters on Tuesday. “I asked him to undertake this investigation with Russian collusion a couple of years ago. He’s indicated publicly that he believes they will find no collusion.”

The GOP leader did not directly address the furor over the subpoena.

At a closed-door Senate Intelligence Committee meeting Tuesday, committee members said the subpoena did not come up. Instead, the committee approved a measure that would fund oversight of the U.S. Intelligence community, according to a statement after the meeting.

“To be honest, we were talking about a lot of other items and it never came up,” Sen. Angus King (I-Maine) said. “Believe it or not, we are doing other things.”

Republicans were worried that Trump Jr. had no intention of complying with the subpoena and would force a floor vote on the subpoena, amounting to a high-stakes loyalty test on the Senate floor.

Senate Republicans were resistant Tuesday to that idea. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-.S.C), a close ally of Trump, said he respects Burr but was unsure how he would have voted.

Burr declined to comment on the subpoena Tuesday.

“I don’t talk about engagement with witnesses. At all. Never have. I don’t have any comment as it relates to the interview process period. On anything. I’m not addressing anything relative to witnesses,” he said in an interview. “We’re continuing to try and wrap up our investigation.”

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), a member of the Intelligence Committee, said that he understood Trump Jr.’s frustration and emphasized the subpoena is not the “centerpiece” of the investigation.

“I don’t think this was in any way an effort to harm him,” he said, adding, “I think once cooler heads prevail and more conversations take place, hopefully, we can find a way that the committee can get its information and he can get closure.”

Darren Samuelsohn contributed to this story.