There is only one political party inside the beltway and we are not invited. As Richard Burr has shown, “the powers that be” have their own agenda and it does not involve anything close to supporting the wishes of his North Carolina constituents.
On Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) declared “case closed” on President Trump and the Russia investigation. On Wednesday, we learned that one of his powerful Senate GOP colleagues disagrees.
As Axios first reported, Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr (R-N.C.) subpoenaed Donald Trump Jr. in recent weeks. In doing so, Burr injected a rather unhelpful subplot into an investigation on which his fellow Republicans are trying to turn the page. While it’s easy to dismiss House Democrats’ nascent subpoena battles with the White House as partisan politics, the fact that a Republican chairman isn’t finished either makes it much more difficult to argue that it’s time to move on.
But whatever the underlying issues, the use of a subpoena ratchets this up. It suggests Trump Jr. is resisting a second date, but Burr is insisting. (And judging by the Trump Jr. team’s anonymous attacks on Burr and acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney’s complaints, this is a source of real tension.)
Burr’s move also reinforces a long-standing pattern among Senate Republicans: When they have the power and latitude to run afoul of Trump, they often do — even as their less-potent colleagues have been corralled by Trump and his base.
We don’t know what specifically Burr is interested in hearing from Trump Jr. — just that it pertains to contacts with Russians. Trump Jr. has told Congress (including Burr’s committee in previous testimony) that he didn’t inform President Trump of his meeting with a Russian lawyer who promised dirt on Hillary Clinton. But the Mueller report shows Michael Cohen has called this into question; Democrats have suggested Trump Jr. might have committed perjury. Burr suggested in an interview with The Washington Post this week that this isn’t his focus.