‘Bad form’ and ‘wrong’: Republicans slam Don Jr. subpoena from GOP senator

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‘Bad form’ and ‘wrong’: Republicans slam Don Jr. subpoena from GOP senator




Mick Mulvaney

White House acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney said Wednesday he has “no idea what the factual allegations are” regarding the subpoena of Donald Trump Jr. | Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images

Top Republicans are blasting the GOP-led Senate Intelligence Committee for slapping a subpoena on President Donald Trump’s eldest son, calling the move “wrong” and “beyond inappropriate.”

The subpoena made for awkward optics as Republican lawmakers and the White House have called on Democrats to move on from the Russia probe.

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House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), a top Trump ally, said Thursday that the panel was “wrong” to compel Donald Trump Jr. to testify again before the committee and urged senators to drop the subpoena.

“Donald Trump Jr. has already testified for hours. I believe it’s time to move on,” McCarthy told reporters during his weekly press conference. “I think they have it wrong.”

And another one of Trump’s close allies, Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), called the move “beyond inappropriate.”

“Serving a subpoena to Don Trump Jr.—a private citizen who voluntarily testified before 3 Congressional committees for 25+ hours—is beyond inappropriate,” the Freedom Caucus chief tweeted. “He answered questions and was cleared in the Mueller report after a 2 year, unlimited investigation. It’s over. Let it go.”

Senate Intelligence Chairman Richard Burr (R-N.C.) declined to comment on the subpoena, which the committee reportedly issued at least a week ago.

“Maybe you didn’t hear me when I said I’m not going to talk to you guys right now,” he told reporters Thursday.

Meanwhile, acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney said Wednesday that it was “bad form” for Republican leaders not to give the West Wing a heads up about the subpoena, which caught top officials off guard.

Mulvaney told CBS’ Major Garrett in an interview for Garrett’s podcast that he’d been blindsided by the news and only found out about it before leaving for the interview.

Trump also said Thursday he was “very surprised” by the subpoena.

“My son testified for hours and hours,” Trump said at a health care event at the White House. “My son was totally exonerated by Mueller.”

Mulvaney downplayed the potential implications of the subpoena, noting that Trump Jr. doesn’t work in the West Wing, but swiped at lawmakers for the lack of warning, accusing them of being on the brink of politicizing the panel.

“I have no opinion about that because he is a private citizen and not a member of the administration,” Mulvaney said. “That being said, the fact that the president’s son got a subpoena from a Republican-led committee — and listen, I’m all for bipartisanship on intel committees… but to subpoena the president of the United States’ son and not at least get a heads-up, I thought was — let’s say bad form.”

Mulvaney said he wasn’t sure whether Trump found out about the subpoena before his departure for a rally in Florida. It was possible someone in the White House had advance notice about the subpoena, Mulvaney suggested, reiterating that the subpoena of someone outside the administration wasn’t under his purview. “But it would be highly unlikely that it would end up in the White House and I wouldn’t know about it,” he added.

“I’m not involved in the president’s — his legal matters regarding his business, his legal matters regarding his family — I don’t do that. I handle the West Wing of the government,” he continued.

News of the subpoena, which came just days after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) took to the chamber floor to declare the Russia probe “case closed,” rankled congressional Republicans.

“Apparently the Republican chair of the Senate Intel Committee didn’t get the memo from the Majority Leader that this case was closed,” tweeted Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.).

But other members have tried to foist the blame on Senate Democrats, even though Burr is chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee.

“I agree with Leader McConnell: this case is closed. The Mueller Report cleared @DonaldJTrumpJr and he’s already spent 27 hours testifying before Congress,” tweeted Sen. Thom Tillis (R), who serves North Carolina along with Burr. “Dems have made it clear this is all about politics. It’s time to move on & start focusing on issues that matter to Americans.”

It’s unclear why the committee subpoenaed Trump Jr., and Mulvaney said Wednesday he was in the dark. Trump Jr. testified voluntarily before the panel as part of its ongoing investigation into Russian election interference and the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia. He had come under scrutiny from special counsel Robert Mueller over his involvement with a Trump Tower Moscow project and a meeting in Trump Tower in 2016 with a Russian lawyer who promised damaging information on the president’s 2016 opponent, Hillary Clinton, sourced from the Kremlin.

There had been some speculation Trump Jr. would be indicted in Mueller’s probe, but the special counsel did not charge the president’s son.

Mulvaney said Wednesday he has “no idea what the factual allegations are” regarding the subpoena but added “I know it deals with a Trump Tower discussion or something like that.” He said his information came only from news reports.

A source familiar with the matter told POLITICO on Wednesday that Trump Jr. is weighing not appearing before the committee, potentially setting up an intraparty clash.

But Mulvaney asserted that the subpoena didn’t conflict with McConnell’s declaration.

“They’re two different people. They do share the same name and certainly Don Jr. is the president’s son,” the acting chief of staff said, insisting that the question of the president’s involvement in any Russian collusion or obstruction of justice has been settled even as his son faces a subpoena.

Burgess Everett contributed to this story.

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