Lindsey Graham: “Any time you’re in a campaign and you get an offer from a foreign government to help your campaign, the answer is ‘no’.” pic.twitter.com/SOUdr0iYp3
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) July 11, 2017
The day before Donald Trump Jr. published emails regarding his meeting with a Russian lawyer whom others alleged had “damaging” information on Hillary Clinton, Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) declared the Senate Intelligence Committee “needs to interview him and others who attended the meeting.” Though he isn’t a federal employee, Trump Jr. could very well face their questions — as well as questions by other congressional committees pursuing their own Trump-Russia probes — if they decide to subpoena him. After all, former FBI director turned private citizen James Comey testified in open session before the Senate Intel Committee in May.
Then again, Comey was invited to testify and didn’t require juridical gymnastics to force his hand. Trump Jr., on the other hand, faces potentially severe scrutiny from Collins and other congresspeople since his emails apparently demonstrate a willingness to collude with foreign agents. So despite President Donald Trump’s “high quality person” defense of his eldest son, additional calls by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-California) and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) may result in a public appearance by Trump Jr. in the near future.
As Graham, a Republican member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, told reporters following Tuesday’s email bombshell, Trump Jr. may not have any other choice. “Anytime you’re in a campaign and you get an offer from a foreign government to help your campaign, the answer is no,” he explained. “I don’t know what Mr. Trump Jr.’s version of the facts are, [but] definitely he has to testify. That email was disturbing.”
Feinstein, meanwhile — who possesses the position of ranking member on the Senate Judiciary Committee, and is the former chairwoman of the Senate Intel Committee — issued a statement through her office echoing Graham’s sentiments. Unlike her committee colleague and Collins before them, however, Feinstein insists Trump Jr. should testify “in open session”:
There are still many questions that must be answered. That’s why I’ve urged Chairman Grassley to move quickly — this issue is squarely within the jurisdiction of the Judiciary Committee and I believe we need to have Donald Trump, Jr., and other individuals come before the committee, in open session, as soon as possible.
Aside from these players, many other senators — either those whose committee assignments include Intelligence or Judiciary, or those with higher public profiles — have joined in the fray. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-New York) demanded Trump Jr. testify on Monday, then upped the ante on Tuesday by reiterating Feinstein’s point. Considering his position as the Senate Minority Leader, Schumer’s opinion isn’t all that surprising. Sen. John Cornyn’s (R-Texas) position that Trump Jr. “should” testify before the Intel Committee, however, is. (Not only does he sit on the Judiciary, but Cornyn was also briefly considered by Trump to replace Comey at the FBI.) “I can’t imagine a world in which that doesn’t happen,” he told reporters late Tuesday afternoon.