US President-elect Donald Trump along with his son Donald, Jr., arrive for a press conference at Trump Tower in New York, as Allen Weisselberg (C), chief financial officer of The Trump, looks on January 11, 2017. As US President Donald Trump's former lawyer Michael Cohen delivered hours of riveting testimony to a US House committee on February 27, 2019, one name came up again and again: Allen Weisselberg. Weisselberg, 71, is the publicity-shy chief financial officer of the Trump Organization and one of the real estate tycoon's oldest and closest advisors.
AFP/Timothy A. Clary
Trump Jr subpoenaed as Congress battles White House over Russia report
Michael Mathes (Agence France-Presse) - May 9, 2019 - 9:19am

WASHINGTON, United States — The Russia probe plunged Washington into turmoil Wednesday as Donald Trump's son reportedly was ordered to testify before a Senate panel and the White House refused to release material on investigations into the president.

A day after the top Republican in Congress called the Russia probe "case closed," Trump's conflict with his Democratic opponents escalated to new heights as a House panel voted to hold the nation's Attorney General Bill Barr in contempt for refusing to turn over key documents.

Following a day of drama that included Trump asserting his executive privilege for the first time in his presidency, the Republican-led Senate Intelligence Committee took the surprise step of issuing a subpoena to Donald Trump Jr to testify as part of its investigation into Russian election interference, US media reported.

It was the first known legal summons issued to a member of the president's family to force testimony in the ongoing investigation, and comes after special counsel Robert Mueller declined to accuse Trump's 2016 campaign of criminal conspiracy to collude with the Russians.

Trump Jr, 41, has testified voluntarily in private once to the committee, and was peppered with questions about a June 9, 2016 meeting in Trump Tower in New York that he and other campaign officials had with a Russian lawyer who had offered them dirt on Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

Committee aides would not confirm the subpoena or what they want to discuss with the president's eldest son, who currently helps run the Trump Organization.

Citing a person close to Trump Jr, The Wall Street Journal reported he had offered to answer questions in writing from the committee, and planned to fight the subpoena, which demands he testify in person.

'Constitutional crisis'

The White House meanwhile has been seeking to shield a large swathe of material -- including redacted portions of Mueller's report -- subpoenaed by lawmakers seeking to exert their oversight responsibility.

The rare move to invoke executive privilege came as the House Judiciary Committee took its most substantive step yet against a member of the Trump administration by approving a contempt motion against Barr.

"This was a very grave and momentous step we were forced to take today," committee chairman Jerry Nadler said after the party-line vote.

Nadler said the contempt citation will proceed "rapidly" for a full House vote but did not offer a timeline.

Nadler accused Trump and the White House of stonewalling by preventing America's congressional representatives from conducting oversight of the executive branch.

"It's an attack on the essence of our democracy," Nadler said. "We are now in a constitutional crisis."

The Department of Justice swiftly shot back, branding the contempt vote "inappropriate political theatrics."

Hours earlier, Trump made clear he would assert his executive privilege to keep Mueller's full report under wraps.

"Neither the White House nor Attorney General Barr will comply with Chairman Nadler's unlawful and reckless demands," White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said.

Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd stressed that Trump had moved to keep "the entirety of the subpoenaed materials" from the eyes of Congress.

Nadler warned that such action "represents a clear escalation in the Trump administration's blanket defiance of Congress's constitutionally mandated duties."

Democrats have struggled with their battle plan in the wake of the Mueller report. Some have called for impeachment proceedings against Trump, while others stress the need to refocus on issues affecting everyday Americans ahead of the 2020 election.

The administration has been resolute in accusing Democrats of seeking to tear down the president.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Trump's nemesis in Congress, has refrained from calling for his impeachment. 

But on Wednesday she voiced support for the contempt move, and delivered a stinging message about the White House refusal to release the unredacted report, a document that Trump claimed exonerated him of wrongdoing.

"Is this what it looks like when you have nothing to hide?" Pelosi tweeted.

For several hours in the tense judiciary hearing, lawmakers traded barbs about Barr's brazen protection of the president and the calculated effort by Democrats to punish him and gain access to key material.

Trump took to Twitter to rail about Mueller's two-year investigation.

"TREASONOUS HOAX!" Trump boomed, a reference to a favorite complaint that the probe was an unwarranted political hit job by his opponents.

Barr defied a subpoena to turn over a complete copy of Mueller's report and the underlying evidence, and last week refused to testify before the House Judiciary Committee.

The panel approved the 27-page contempt citation in which Nadler wrote that even the redacted report "offers disturbing evidence and analysis that President Trump engaged in obstruction of justice at the highest levels."

DONALD TRUMP RUSSIA UNITED STATES
As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: October 2, 2019 - 5:03pm

The Justice Department says it has given House Republicans new classified information related to the Russia investigation after lawmakers had threatened to hold officials in contempt of Congress or even impeach them.

A spokeswoman for House Speaker Paul Ryan says Saturday that the department has partially complied with subpoenas from the House Intelligence and Judiciary committees after officials turned over more than a thousand new documents this week.

House Republicans had given the Justice Department and FBI a Friday deadline for all documents, most of which are related to the origins of the FBI's Russia investigation and the handling of its probe into Democrat Hillary Clinton's emails. — AP

October 2, 2019 - 5:03pm

Australia's prime minister plays down the significance of a call from Donald Trump as "brief and uneventful", despite mounting controversy over a politically fraught offer to help the US president.

Scott Morrison says Trump had simply asked him to establish "a point of contact" within Australia's government for an investigation that the US president hopes will discredit findings that Russia helped his 2016 election campaign.

Morrison says he was "happy" to fulfil Trump's request on the basis that the country's ambassador to the United States, Joe Hockey, had already offered Australia's assistance in the investigation back in May. — AFP

September 28, 2019 - 5:37pm

The Washington Post reports that US President Donald Trump told Russia's foreign minister and ambassador that he was unconcerned about their country's interference in the 2016 elections.

Trump made the previously unreported comments during the same May 2017 Oval Office meeting in which he famously revealed highly classified information on the Islamic State group. 

During the conversation he reportedly told Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak that he was not bothered by their country's meddling because the United States did the same in other countries, according to three former officials who requested anonymity. — AFP

June 26, 2019 - 9:23am

US Special Counsel Robert Mueller has agreed to testify on July 17 on his report into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, the House Judiciary and Intelligence Committees say.

"Robert Mueller has agreed to testify before Congress pursuant to subpoena," intelligence committee chairman Adam Schiff announces on Twitter.

 

 

"Russia attacked our democracy to help Trump win. Trump welcomed and used that help. As Mueller said, that should concern every American. And now, every American will get to hear directly from Mueller." — AFP

May 25, 2019 - 12:05pm

President Donald Trump is defending his unprecedented decision to give his Justice Department chief unfettered access to the country's deepest foreign intelligence secrets amid an outcry from the spy community and a veiled warning from the US intelligence czar.

The president says Attorney General Bill Barr needed unilateral power to declassify any top secret material to get to the roots of the 2016-2018 investigation into whether his election campaign colluded with Russia. — AFP

May 24, 2019 - 4:07pm

US President Donald Trump has ordered the intelligence community to "fully cooperate" with an investigation into what he has termed "spying" on his 2016 election campaign.

The move comes with Trump under increasing pressure from probes led by Democratic lawmakers in Congress, some of whom are pushing for his impeachment.

According to Trump, court-approved surveillance of his campaign's links to Russians amounted to "spying." He has even called the probe treason and indicated he would like to see criminal charges brought against his investigators. — AFP

Philstar
  • Latest
  • Trending
Latest
Are you sure you want to log out?
X
Login

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

SIGN IN
or sign in with