One major focus that the Senate Judiciary Committee has set their sights on has been the infamous Donald Trump Jr. meeting with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya. It was later found that there were other members of the Trump campaign in the room. Two notable characters in the room included Paul Manafort and Jared Kushner.
When called before committee staffers to answer questions, both Kushner and Trump Jr. were offered the privilege of privacy and were not forced to answer questions in front of cameras and the nation.
However, that might change if 10 Democrats get their way. It began with Sen. Dianne Feinstein calling on the Senate Judiciary Committee to hold public hearings. Back in September 2017, she was asked if she thought it would happen and she remarked:
‘I do — come hell or high water.’
Sen. Feinstein doesn’t play. Nine Democratic senators joined in her call for public hearings by supporting her in a letter sent to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuch Grassley (R-Iowa) Those senators included Richard Blumenthal, Patrick Leahy, Dick Durbin, Sheldon Whitehouse, Amy Klobuchar, Christopher Coons, Mazie Hirono, Cory Booker, and Kamala Harris.
They wrote of their support:
‘Senator Feinstein has previously asked for public hearings as part of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s ongoing investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, potential Trump campaign collusion, and any related obstruction of justice. We support her requests.’
Although there are plans to release transcripts of the Trump Jr. interview to the public, the senators wrote that was not enough.
‘We commend the promise you made at the last executive business meeting to begin publicly releasing transcripts of the interviews that have been conducted thus far by Committee staff. However, simply releasing these transcripts is not enough. Committee members have long been led to believe that they would have the chance to question witnesses directly — to follow up on the many questions raised by the staff interviews and to ensure that witnesses testify publicly and under oath.’
They requested that public hearings be held for both Trump Jr. and Kushner, Trump’s senior advisor and son-in-law. Though Trump Jr. appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Kushner has refused to schedule an interview with them. He did appear before the Senate Intelligence Committee.
‘Mr. Kushner’s recent decision to refuse a private interview with our Committee does not diminish the need to compel his public testimony and that of other crucial witnesses. If anything, it makes his public testimony all the more essential. The fact that Mr. Kushner spoke to other Congressional committees also does not free him from his obligation to testify before us. Those committees have different areas of jurisdiction and focus; their efforts in no way eliminate our right and responsibility to do our job.’
They also noted Kushner has not provided all the documents they requested.
‘It is also our understanding that Mr. Kushner has produced some, but not all, of the documents requested of him and – notably – that he has refused to provide any documents related to the sections of his security clearance forms that would reveal foreign travel and contacts.’
Will Grassley give in to the demands of Democrats on the committee and call for public hearings? We can’t be certain of that. What we can be certain of is the America public deserves to see Trump Jr. and Kushner questioned for their role in the Trump campaign and any relationship they may have had with Russian entities.
Featured image by Drew Angerer/Getty Images.