Senate Panel Issues Subpoena For Donald Trump Jr.
STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
What's the point of recalling the president's son before Congress? The Senate Intelligence Committee wants to hear again from Donald Trump Jr. Some Republicans questioned that move. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy spoke on CBS yesterday.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)
KEVIN MCCARTHY: It's not going to change the outcome of the Mueller report. And no House or Senate is going to have the number of attorneys, the ability to subpoena where they're going, the grand jury, all that. So this is a time that the country wants us to move forward.
INSKEEP: But the Senate Intelligence Committee says it has questions for Don Jr. It is a notably bipartisan committee with a Republican chairman. So let's ask how this may look from a chairman's seat. Mike Rogers once chaired the House Intelligence Committee. He was a Republican representative from Michigan. He is now at the Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress, and he is following the Senate Committee's move.
MIKE ROGERS: Well - and I'm just supposing here, but - I'm going to guess, as a former chairman who did politically sensitive investigations when I was in Congress, that there was some inconsistencies between what came out in the Mueller report and some of the testimony from Don Jr., and it sounds like it's centered around the Moscow project.
INSKEEP: OK. When you said the Moscow project, of course, you're talking about the proposal that there would be a Trump Tower Moscow. It appears that the president signed a memorandum of understanding for that project, although it didn't go ahead. Right?
ROGERS: That's correct. And apparently, Don Jr. did have knowledge about it, told the committee he didn't. In the Mueller report, it says something a little different. And then the Cohen testimony, the president's former lawyer, also said that Don Jr. had played a role in that. It doesn't mean that there is even anything nefarious, necessarily. The chairman and the ranking member probably believe there's some inconsistencies important enough to try to rectify.
INSKEEP: I would imagine people listening to you are thinking the word perjury and wondering if it applies here. Is it that he essentially gets a do-over or a chance to clarify, and so it would be too early to think about some kind of criminal charge?
ROGERS: I do think it's too early to think criminal charge, I really do. I think perjury should be a high standard. Here I think, again, I think they're looking to clarify. And I think that's why the chairman Richard Burr is taking a lot of heat for this. I think it's the right thing to do. And my understanding is that he's tried many, many times to get Don Jr. to come in and clarify or testify, and, just, he wasn't willing to do that. So he felt that he needed to issue a subpoena.
INSKEEP: Surprised at all that Richard Burr, a Republican chairman, would take this step?
ROGERS: You know, not really. And, you know, again, I've been in this seat. And you get more heat, I think, from your own party than the other party. But I think he believes that he wanted to be the straight shooter on the investigation. And so whatever report comes out of the committee, he wanted to believe it was fair and a good assessment. You know, right, wrong, good, bad, the ugly. And I think this is just that next step of, hey, I need to clarify this. This is the only way to do this.
And I think that's very important. I think this was probably the right step for him. And again, I think people are jumping to conclusions that it means something nefarious. It might not. It might be just clarifying previous testimony.
INSKEEP: This is a committee that's supposed to be bipartisan or nonpartisan in its approach. In fact, if I'm not mistaken, the ranking member on the Democratic side is not called that. They're called the vice chairman. In this case, it's Mark Warner, Democrat of Virginia. Do you sense that it is vitally important to both of these men, Burr and Warner, that they work together?
ROGERS: I do. And again, I - listen, these things - I approached my time on as an Intel chairman as a partnership, not necessarily even a vice chair or a chairman because these issues tend to be very sensitive. The information that you're exposed to is very, very sensitive. And the issues are always hard. There's no - it seems you're always brushing up against the gray area in the intelligence business. And so it's really important to make sure they're following the law and they get the support that they need.
So that bipartisanship or nonpartisanship, as you said, is critically important. And so again, I do believe they think the best and most important thing that they can do in this report, which is just fraught with political, you know, rock throwers, is that they do it as bipartisan or nonpartisan as they can and come - you know, let the facts dictate the response. You're probably going to have people on both sides of this issue when this report is released not happy with it, which would tell me that they probably struck the right balance.
INSKEEP: Mike Rogers was once the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee. Thanks so much.
ROGERS: Hey. Thanks for having me. I appreciate it. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.