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May 14, 2019
Originally published on May 14, 2019 5:25 pm

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Donald Trump Jr. has agreed to testify again before the Senate Intelligence Committee in mid-June. That panel is still finishing its own report on Russian interference in the 2016 election. Trump Jr. first appeared before the panel in 2017 to answer questions about a Trump Tower meeting with Russians who were offering information on then presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. Now, this news comes just a week after the Republican-led panel took the unusual step of issuing a subpoena to the president's son.

NPR's Tim Mak is in the studio now to talk more about it. Hey there, Tim.

TIM MAK, BYLINE: Hey there.

CORNISH: Last week the committee sent the subpoena. What followed?

MAK: So a source familiar said that the negotiations made a breakthrough on Tuesday evening. Donald Trump Jr. says he will testify before the committee, but the panel has agreed to limit the grilling to just four hours. No topics will be off limits, however. And some of those topics will be familiar to a lot of our listeners, right?

At the top of the agenda will be Trump Jr.'s awareness about the Trump Tower Moscow project as well as Trump Junior's participation in that meeting in New York City in June 2016 at which he hosted a Russian delegation offering dirt - quote, unquote, "dirt" on Hillary Clinton.

CORNISH: There's been lots of reporting about that meeting, right? Why does the committee want him to come back?

MAK: Yeah, the - I mean, the Mueller report is out. You might be forgiven for wondering why committees are still investigating the Trump family and Russia. But back in 2017 when he testified before Congress, Trump Jr. played down any knowledge of the potential Trump Tower Moscow project that was being negotiated during the 2016 elections. But in testimony - open testimony before a House committee earlier this year, Michael Cohen said he repeatedly briefed Trump Jr. on that same project.

So this didn't go unnoticed by other committees. The Republican chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Richard Burr, obviously wasn't satisfied with the current state of the testimony, and he took the unusual step of sending the first congressional subpoena to a member of the Trump family.

CORNISH: Does this resolve the tension that we've been seeing between a Republican-led committee and its own party's president?

MAK: Yes, well, look; that subpoena caused a lot of Republican blowback because it's a Republican-led committee making this very unusual move. It even forced Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to address it today.

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MITCH MCCONNELL: Well, none of us tell Chairman Burr how to run his committee. He's indicated publicly that he believes they will find no collusion. And we are hoping that we'll get a report on that subject sometime soon.

MAK: So you can tell from what McConnell said today it really does look like this could be one of the final steps before the committee wraps up its investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. This is something that's been going on ever since that last campaign, and it's been a real source of interest for congressional reporters and the public who want to know outside of the Mueller investigation what congressional committees are doing in terms of oversight and in terms of our intelligence services. That's been a major part of what this congressional committee has been up to.

CORNISH: That's NPR's Tim Mak. Thank you for your reporting.

MAK: Thanks a lot. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.