The newest point of friction in DC is the Senate Intelligence Committee's decision to subpoena Donald Trump Jr. The panel is conducting its own investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, and it wants the president's son to answer more questions. What sets this apart from the fights going on between the House and the Trump administration is that the decision to issue the subpoena came from a Republican—committee chairman Richard Burr of North Carolina. And that has set off what the Washington Post calls "an internal Republican firefight." Details:
- The pushback: Republicans allied with Trump say the subpoena is misguided. “This would not go forward without Republican complicity,” says Sen. Rand Paul. “So I think it’s a mistake for Republicans to keep putting the Trump family through this, and I really think they ought to drop it.” A former "high-ranking" White House official tells Breitbart News that Burr "just started a civil war in the Republican Party with someone who has undoubtedly become one of the biggest superstars in the eyes of the base."
- Trump Jr.'s move: The president's son likely will not comply with the subpoena, reports Reuters. A post at Axios also predicts he won't show up. What then? "Options include daring the committee to hold him in contempt, taking the Fifth in writing, or (most likely) a compromise like answering written questions."
- Strong words: Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal issued a warning if Trump Jr. refuses to comply. "If he fails to answer, he ought to be put in jail,” Blumenthal said, per HuffPost. “If he fails to comply with a lawful subpoena, he has no privilege. Prison is the only answer.”
- A telling split: Burr is retiring instead of running for re-election, which perhaps gives him more leeway to buck the White House. But his fellow GOP senator from North Carolina, Thom Tillis, is up for re-election next year, and he criticized the subpoena. "Two Republican senators from North Carolina told us an awful lot this week about the state of the G.O.P. in the Trump era," writes Lisa Lerer at the New York Times. She notes that Republicans who go up against the White House often pay for it at election time.
- Calculated leak? Breitbart suggests that Democrats on the panel leaked news of the subpoena to sow GOP dissension because Mitch McConnell just came out and declared the Russia investigation to be "case closed" in his view. However, in a radio interview Friday, McConnell advised the president "not to worry" about his son's subpoena, reports the Hill.
- Rubio's point: Marco Rubio sits on the panel, and he emphasizes that the committee's bipartisan investigation into Russian interference is separate from the Robert Mueller investigation. He adds that the subpoena does not mean Trump Jr. is in trouble—it's about gathering more information. "We're not prosecutors," he said, per the Hill. "We're an oversight committee."
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