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

Sen. John CornynJohn CornynThe Memo: Biden gambles that he can do it all Trump impeachment trial to begin week of Feb. 8 Limbaugh falsely says Biden didn't win legitimately while reacting to inauguration MORE (R-Texas), a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said Thursday that he would raise the subpoena of Donald Trump Jr.Don TrumpCompany appeals rejection of controversial Pebble Mine  Singer Taylor Dayne responds to criticism after Mar-a-Lago performance: 'I try to stay non-political' More voters say pardons for Trump's family would be inappropriate: poll MORE with Chairman Richard BurrRichard Mauze BurrOn The Money: Biden extends eviction moratorium, student loan forbearance | Stocks hit record highs on Biden's first day as president | Justice Dept. closes insider trading case against Burr The Hill's Morning Report - President Biden, Vice President Harris begin work today Justice Dept. closes insider trading case against Burr without charges 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 McConnellBiden attends first church service as president in DC, stops at local bagel shop Harry Reid 'not particularly optimistic' Biden will push to eliminate filibuster Senators spar over validity of Trump impeachment trial 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 TrumpMore than two-thirds of Americans approve of Biden's coronavirus response: poll Sarah Huckabee Sanders to run for governor Mexico's president tests positive for COVID-19 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 CohenFlorida bank says it has closed Trump's accounts Trump's pardons harshly criticized by legal experts Manhattan DA expands probe into Trump company to include family estate: report 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 TrumpIvanka TrumpRubio: Trump impeachment trial is 'stupid' The Hill's Morning Report - Biden's crisis agenda hits headwinds NRSC chair says he'll back GOP incumbents against Trump primary challengers 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 TillisSenators introduce bill to award Officer Goodman the Congressional Gold Medal Schumer becomes new Senate majority leader Democrats see Georgia as model for success across South 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 PaulSunday shows preview: All eyes on Biden administration to tackle coronavirus The Hill's Morning Report - Biden takes office, calls for end to 'uncivil war' Senate confirms Biden's intel chief, giving him first Cabinet official 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.