WASHINGTON (TIP): Richard Burr faces intense pressure from Republicans to drop his subpoena of President Donald Trump’s eldest son and quickly wrap up the Senate Intelligence Committee’s Russia probe.
But despite a day facing attacks from the highest rungs of party leadership, Burr is unmoved, according to colleagues in both parties.
The North Carolina Republican declined to address the criticism or the subpoena to reporters, but there is no talk yet of withdrawing the subpoena, according to Republican senators. Burr gave a brief update on the status of his Russia investigation at a Senate GOP lunch on Thursday, attendees said.
Burr, known for his independent streak, appeared happy to ignore the political storm he had fueled.
“I told you I’m not going to chat right now. I’m in the middle of something,” Burr said as he made his way to lunch in the Senate dining room. Afterward, he posed for pictures with his lunch guests, then walked into the Capitol and kept his public silence.
Some of Burr’s GOP colleagues, however, were eager to offer complaints that the Intelligence Committee is still working its probe weeks after special counsel Robert Mueller’s report was released.
“The subpoenas can’t happen without a Republican being for it, and I would hope that Republicans would stand firm and say enough’s enough,” said Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), who is close to Donald Trump Jr. “This is a great sort of assault on someone, in the sense that you put yourself in jeopardy anytime you come in and testify.”
“This is one great big politicized, political football,” said Sen. Steve Daines (R-Mont.), another Trump Jr. ally. He described broad GOP “frustration on what’s going on at the moment. It’s time to move on from these investigations.”
Some Intelligence Committee members said the panel would need to address the controversial subpoena, which was issued by Burr and the Democratic vice chairman of the committee, Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia. The subpoena was sent days ago, but news of it leaked just one day after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) declared the Mueller investigation “case closed.”
“The Mueller report has concluded no collusion, and Barr said no obstruction. What’s the deal? Why is this continuing on? I think there needs to be a better conversation about that,” said Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), an Intelligence Committee member.
He later declared he has “confidence” in Burr but reiterated “we pretty much know just about everything we need to know.” His fellow Texan Ted Cruz agreed, tweeting: “There’s no need for another subpoena.” Others were harsher. Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) called Burr’s move “beyond inappropriate” and acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney said it was “bad form” not to give the president a heads-up.
Trump name-checked Burr on Thursday, expressing his disapproval with the subpoena and arguing his son had been “totally exonerated” by Mueller.
“I was very surprised,” Trump told reporters. “I saw Richard Burr saying there was no collusion two or three weeks ago.”
Indeed, the family element of the subpoena heightened the tension. Trump Jr. has been closely linked to Trump’s style of politics, barnstorming the country last year on behalf of GOP Senate candidates and seen within the Republican Party as a loyal soldier.
So there was little surprise within Capitol Hill that the subpoena became an intraparty flash point.