Key GOP senator after Trump Jr. intel subpoena says 'at some point this smacks of politics'

Sen. John CornynJohn CornynCongress pulls punches on Russian bounties firestorm Democrats seek to tie GOP candidates to Trump, DeVos Texas lawmakers ask HHS to set up field hospital, federal resources in the state MORE (R-Texas), a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said Thursday that he would raise the subpoena of Donald Trump Jr.Don John TrumpSouth Dakota governor flew with Trump on Air Force One after being exposed to coronavirus: report Gianforte halts in-person campaigning after wife, running mate attend event with Guilfoyle Trump Jr. knocks CNN's Chris Cuomo over interview with father: 'I'm not pretending to be a journalist' MORE with Chairman Richard BurrRichard Mauze BurrKoch-backed group urges Senate to oppose 'bailouts' of states in new ads Biden campaign adds staff in three battleground states Exclusive investigation on the coronavirus pandemic: Where was Congress? MORE (R-N.C.), warning the the panel needs to stay out of politics. 
 
Cornyn, speaking to reporters outside of the Judiciary Committee, said that he could "understand [Trump Jr.'s] frustration" and warned that 'at some point … this smacks of politics."
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"At some point this is not about finding facts, this smacks of politics and I think we have an important job to do to try to keep the Intelligence Committee out of politics and just keep ourselves focused on our mission, which is oversight of the Intelligence Community," said Cornyn, who is an advisor to Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellCongress pulls punches on Russian bounties firestorm Congress under pressure to provide billions for school openings Hillicon Valley: Facebook considers political ad ban | Senators raise concerns over civil rights audit | Amazon reverses on telling workers to delete TikTok MORE (R-Ky.).

Pressed if he was saying he thought Burr's actions were "more about politics and not about following up on leads," Cornyn added that he "didn't say that." 

"I think the committee’s been doing important work that’s been done on a bipartisan basis, and it really is about finding out what the facts are and what we need to do to prevent foreign interference in the future. I can understand Mr. Trump’s frustration now that the Mueller report has gone public and finding no evidence of collusion. I can understand his frustration at being requested to come back," Cornyn continued. 

Reports surfaced on Wednesday that the GOP-led Senate Intelligence Committee had subpoenaed Trump Jr. in connection with the panel’s Russia investigation, the first known congressional subpoena to one of President TrumpDonald John TrumpDavis: Supreme Court decision is bad news for Trump, good news for Vance Meadows trying to root out suspected White House leakers by feeding them info: Axios Pressley hits DeVos over reopening schools: 'I wouldn't trust you to care for a house plant let alone my child' MORE’s children.

Trump Jr. previously testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee in 2017. But his comments have fallen under scrutiny after the president’s former personal attorney Michael CohenMichael Dean CohenDavis: Supreme Court decision is bad news for Trump, good news for Vance Nadler: Barr dealings with Berman came 'awfully close to bribery' Michael Cohen taken back into police custody MORE claimed in his February testimony to the House Oversight and Reform Committee that Trump Jr. was far more involved in the Moscow Trump Tower project and that he briefed both Trump Jr. and Ivanka TrumpIvana (Ivanka) Marie TrumpMelania Trump confidant plans tell-all book Trump says he's 'all for masks' despite reluctance to wear one Trump signs order directing federal government to focus on skills when hiring MORE on the project about 10 times.

The decision to subpoena Trump Jr. has sparked GOP criticism of Burr, who as chairman has been leading the committee's investigation. The panel has been running a years-long investigation into the 2016 election and Russian meddling.

Cornyn said on Thursday that he would talk with Burr about "what we need to do to wrap up our investigation." 

"I wasn’t aware the subpoena was issued, it was really something done by committee staff, so I’m going to talk to the chairman and the other committee members and find out exactly where we are and what else we need to do to wrap up this investigation and report our findings to the public," he said. 

Republicans argue the move is out of line with McConnell's proclamation earlier this week from the Senate floor that the Mueller investigation is "case closed," though the subpoena was issued at least a week before McConnell's speech. 

Sen. Thom TillisThomas (Thom) Roland TillisDemocrats seek to tie GOP candidates to Trump, DeVos Senate GOP hedges on attending Trump's convention amid coronavirus uptick Lincoln Project offers list of GOP senators who 'protect' Trump in new ad MORE (R-N.C.), who like Cornyn is up for reelection next year, said in a tweet that "I agree with Leader McConnell: this case is closed."

Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard Paul'Live with it' is the new GOP response to COVID — but no, we can't do that Koch-backed group urges Senate to oppose 'bailouts' of states in new ads How conservative conspiracy theories are deepening America's political divide MORE (R-Ky.), who is an ally of Trump's, was the first GOP senator to publicly criticize Burr.

"Apparently the Republican chair of the Senate Intel Committee didn’t get the memo from the Majority Leader that this case was closed," Paul said in a tweet.