Trump Calls Grassley Before He Grills Don Jr. On Trump Tower Meeting

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Jack Crowe Political Reporter
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President Donald Trump called GOP Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa Wednesday afternoon to express support for ethanol, a corn based biofuel that provides a boon to Iowa’s agricultural economy.

Trump’s call comes one day after his son, Donald Trump Jr., agreed to appear before Grassley’s Senate Committee on the Judiciary to discuss a June 2016 meeting he admittedly attended in order to obtain damaging information about the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign from a Russian lawyer.

Oil lobbyists have squared off with Iowa’s corn industry since Trump’s election over exactly what percentage of the nation’s fuel supply should be comprised of ethanol. The battle pits the corn lobby against entrenched oil interests, who reject the EPA’s renewable fuel standards as burdensome government interference.

During the campaign, Trump vowed to help Iowa’s ethanol industry, which he described as “under siege” during a June speech in Grand Rapids. The Trump administration has seemingly balanced this campaign pledge against the interests of oil refineries by proposing 2018 renewable fuel standards that maintain the 15 billion gallon ethanol requirement mandated in the 2017 standards. This move defied the existing trend, as renewable fuel standards have increased the ethanol threshold every year since their inception in 2014.

The Senate Committee on the Judiciary settled on a date for Trump Jr. to privately testify as to the contents of his June 2016 meeting with Russian attorney Natalia Veselnitskaya on Tuesday. While the exact date has not yet been released, Trump Jr. will appear in “the next few weeks,” a source familiar with the matter told Politico. He was called to publicly testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee in July but countered by offering to be interviewed privately and provide documents to the committee.

The committee’s leaders, Grassley and Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, vowed in July to compel Trump Jr. and former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort to appear in a public hearing under threat of a subpoena, if necessary. The pair agreed, however, to allow Trump Jr. and Manafort to appear privately ahead of any public hearing.

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