Donald Trump Jr. agrees to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee again

WASHINGTON - Donald Trump Jr. has reached a deal with the Senate Intelligence Committee to appear for a second closed-door interview in June, according to people familiar with the matter, ending a tense standoff between the president's son and the panel's Republican chairman.

Under deal's terms, Trump Jr. will testify for up to four hours and address a limited number of questions, these people said on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive negotiations.

The committee's chairman and vice chairman, Sens. Richard Burr, R-N.C., and Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., had no comment. Alan Futerfas, a lawyer for Trump Jr., declined to comment.

The agreement ends a months-long process to secure Trump Jr.'s testimony. It also quells a simmering crisis for the GOP, after several Republican senators openly urged the president's son either not to comply with the committee's summons or to invoke his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination if he appeared.

Trump Jr. has been a focus of several probes - including special counsel Robert Mueller III's investigation - over his involvement in a June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower with a Russian lawyer who allegedly promised incriminating information about Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. But congressional Democrats suspect that Trump Jr. may have lied when he told congressional investigators he never informed his father about the meeting - a suspicion fueled by Mueller's report, which details former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen's recollection of a phone call in which Trump Jr. allegedly told his father about a meeting to collect "adverse information" on Clinton.

Trump Jr. is expected to face questions about his participation in the meeting, as well as his knowledge of the president's efforts well into his campaign to build a Trump Tower in Moscow, according to people familiar with the deal to secure his testimony in June.

In an interview last week, Burr indicated he was not inclined to pursue a perjury case against Trump Jr., as Mueller had decided not to indict him. Mueller never spoke to Trump Jr. or the president; Cohen is presently serving a three-year prison sentence for lying to Congress and financial crimes.

Cohen's testimony also is driving a new subpoena threat from the House Intelligence Committee against four lawyers connected to President Donald Trump, his children and his businesses. Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., the committee chairman, is seeking documents and testimony about whether they or others directed Cohen to lie about the president's plans for a Trump Tower in Moscow.

Schiff made the request in March, shortly after Cohen told lawmakers that the president's lawyers had helped edit his prior congressional testimony in 2017, when he said the president relinquished his Moscow plans months earlier than he actually did.

Cohen also told the House Intelligence Committee that he discussed the possibility of a pardon with the president's representatives, including lawyer Jay Sekulow, who denied the assertion at the time.

Sekulow is one of the four lawyers who now faces a possible subpoena after failing to produce documents and schedule interviews with the Intelligence Committee, according to a committee aide - a deadline Schiff imposed in a letter sent to the lawyers' representatives earlier this month. The other lawyers are Futerfas; Abbe Lowell, a lawyer for Trump's daughter Ivanka Trump and her husband, senior White House adviser Jared Kushner; and Alan Garten, who represents the Trump Organization.

The four lawyers pushed back against the committee's request in an April letter, in which their attorneys claimed the committee's request is without legislative merit and that the subjects covered in Schiff's inquiry would be covered by attorney-client privilege.

The Washington Post obtained a copy of the correspondence, the existence of which was first reported by the New York Times.

On Tuesday, Patrick Strawbridge, a lawyer for Sekulow, released a statement on behalf of the group, accusing Schiff of fomenting a "truly needless dispute."

"Instead of addressing important intelligence needs, the House Intelligence Committee appears to seek a truly needless dispute - this one with private attorneys - that would force them to violate privileges and ethical rules," Strawbridge wrote. "As committed defense lawyers, we will respect the constitution and defend the attorney-client privilege - one of the oldest and most sacred privileges in the law."

Schiff defended the inquiry Tuesday, arguing in a statement that materials the House Intelligence Committee has collected, as well as Cohen's testimony, "raise serious, unresolved concerns about the obstruction of our Committee's investigation that we would be negligent not to pursue."

Schiff continued: "The Mueller Report revealed a widespread, coordinated effort by the President and his surrogates to obstruct the Special Counsel's investigation. We must determine how expansive the obstruction effort was, and whether others were involved beyond those who were indicted."

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The Washington Post's Carol D. Leonnig contributed to this report.

 

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