US President Donald Trump rushed to his son's defence Thursday, saying he was "very surprised" by a Senate panel's order that Donald Trump Jr testify as part of its investigation into Russia election interference.
"I was very surprised," Trump told reporters about the Senate Intelligence Committee's subpoena of his eldest of five children.
It was the first known legal summons issued by Congress to a member of the president's family to force testimony in the ongoing investigation.
The order comes after Special Counsel Robert Mueller decided there was insufficient evidence to accuse Trump's 2016 campaign of criminal conspiracy to collude with the Russians.
"My son is a very good person, he works very hard. The last thing he needs is Washington DC. I think he'd rather not ever be involved," Trump said.
Trump Jr has already testified at length to the committee, which is run by Republicans, and was "totally exonerated by Mueller," Trump said.
"For my son, after being exonerated, to now get a subpoena to go again, to speak again after close to 20 hours after telling everybody that would listen about a nothing meeting? Yeah, I'm pretty surprised."
The 41-year-old Don Jr testified voluntarily in private once to the committee, and was peppered with questions about a June 9, 2016 meeting in Trump Tower in New York that he and other senior Trump campaign officials had with a Russian lawyer offering dirt on Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
He was also quizzed about direct communications he had with Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, which leaked damaging documents and communications stolen by Russians from Clinton's campaign.
Trump said part of his surprise stems from seeing the committee's chairman, Republican Senator Richard Burr, tell US media that there was no evidence of collusion between Trump or his campaign and Russian operatives to influence the 2016 election.
He also argued that his son and others were merely conducting routine "oppo research" by holding the meeting, as a way to search for damaging information on Trump's 2020 Democratic rival Hillary Clinton.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)
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