Senate intelligence committee subpoenas Donald Trump Jr: reports

The panel renewed interest in talking to Trump Jr after the president's ex-lawyer, Cohen, testified earlier this year.

    Donald Trump Jr disembarks Air Force One at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland [File: Yuri Gripas/Reuters]
    Donald Trump Jr disembarks Air Force One at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland [File: Yuri Gripas/Reuters]

    The United States Senate Intelligence Committee has subpoenaed one of the president's sons, Donald Trump Jr, to answer questions about his contacts with Russia, US media reported on Wednesday, citing unnamed congressional sources.

    The panel is seeking to question Trump Jr about congressional testimony he gave in September 2017 to the Senate Judiciary Committee which was subsequently contradicted in public testimony by former Trump attorney Michael Cohen, one source told Reuters News Agency. 

    During his Judiciary Committee appearance, the source said, Trump Jr was asked about the extent of his involvement in a plan to build a Trump Tower in Moscow.

    "Like I said, I was peripherally aware of it, but most of my knowledge has been gained since as it relates to hearing about it over the last few ... weeks," Trump Jr told the committee, according to an official transcript.

    In testimony before the House of Representatives Oversight Committee, however, Cohen, who began serving a federal prison sentence earlier this week, said he briefed Trump family members "approximately 10 times" about the Moscow Trump Tower project, and that Donald Jr and his sister Ivanka were among the family members he briefed.

    A Senate Intelligence Committee spokeswoman declined to discuss details of its long-running investigation into allegations of Russian meddling in the 2016 US presidential election. The subpoena is a sign that the panel is still conducting its investigation even after the release of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report.

    A lawyer for Donald Trump Jr did not immediately respond to Reuters's request for comment. 

    Confrontation intensifies

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    The reports came as a battle between House Democrats and the Trump administration intensified. 

    Separately on Wednesday, the Democratic-led House Judiciary Committee approved a measure to hold US Attorney General William Barr in contempt for refusing to hand over an unredacted copy of Mueller's Russia report. The measure now goes to the full House for a vote, and likely sets up a court battle and possible fines or jail time for Barr. 

    President Donald Trump also invoked the legal principle of executive privilege to block the report's disclosure. 

    Trump, seeking re-election in 2020, is stonewalling numerous probes by House Democrats, ranging from Mueller's inquiry to matters such as Trump's tax returns and past financial records.

    SOURCE: News agencies