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

Sen. John CornynJohn CornynTrump slams 'very dumb' O'Rourke for proposals on guns, tax exempt status for churches GOP cautions Graham against hauling Biden before Senate Succession at DHS up in the air as Trump set to nominate new head MORE (R-Texas), a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said Thursday that he would raise the subpoena of Donald Trump Jr.Donald (Don) John TrumpDOJ: McGahn, Trump Jr. did not testify before Mueller grand jury Clothing company erects billboard of Marine Corps vet hogtying Trump in front of White House Dem committee chairs blast Trump G-7 announcement MORE with Chairman Richard BurrRichard Mauze BurrEx-CIA agent: Whistleblower's complaint 'should be considered on its merits' Senate Intel chair: Whistleblower hasn't agreed to testify before panel Juan Williams: Trump, the conspiracy theory president 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."
ADVERTISEMENT

"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 McConnellTurkey sanctions face possible wall in GOP Senate Fox's Wallace says 'well-connected' Republican told him there's a 20 percent chance GOP will vote for impeachment White House staggers after tumultuous 48 hours 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 TrumpZuckerberg launches public defense of Facebook as attacks mount Trump leaning toward keeping a couple hundred troops in eastern Syria: report Warren says making Israel aid conditional on settlement building is 'on the table' 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 CohenTrump offers condolences on frequent foe Cummings: 'Very hard, if not impossible, to replace' Elijah Cummings, Democratic chairman and powerful Trump critic, dies at 68 Schiff says committees will eventually make impeachment inquiry transcripts public 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 TrumpCareer State official warned about Biden's son: report Trump speaks with NASA astronauts on all-female spacewalk Biden praises Buttigieg for criticizing GOP attacks: 'That's a good man' 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 TillisTillis says impeachment is 'a waste of resources' GOP requests update on criminal referrals prompted by 2018 Kavanaugh probe The Hill's Campaign Report: Warren, Sanders overtake Biden in third-quarter fundraising 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 PaulTurkey sanctions face possible wall in GOP Senate Trump-Graham relationship tested by week of public sparring Overnight Defense — Presented by Boeing — Pence says Turkey agrees to ceasefire | Senators vow to move forward with Turkey sanctions | Mulvaney walks back comments tying Ukraine aid to 2016 probe 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.