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Long IslandColumnistsDan Janison

Is there a message behind McConnell's support for Don Jr. subpoena?

Senate Intelligence Committee Vice Chairman Mark Warner (D-Va.),

Senate Intelligence Committee Vice Chairman Mark Warner (D-Va.), who leads the panel with Republican Chairman Richard Burr of North Carolina, departs after a meeting at the committee's secure facility on Capitol Hill in Washington on Thursday. Credit: AP / J. Scott Applewhite

When the Republican-run Senate Intelligence Committee summoned the president’s tetchiest son to answer questions and help wrap up its Russia-meddling probe, Donald Trump Jr. sounded more than a bit overwrought.

"An obvious PR stunt from a so-called 'Republican' senator too cowardly to stand up to his boss Mark Warner and the rest of the resistance Democrats on the committee," a "person close" to Junior sniffed to news media on his behalf.

If this isn't contempt of Congress, it does show just a bit of entitled contempt for GOP congressional oversight.

Committee chairman Richard Burr (R-N.C.) might not care about assaults on his character from a self-righteous scion since Burr isn't seeking re-election.

Ranking Democrat Mark Warner (D-Va.), meanwhile, also sounded relatively rational about the subpoena's purpose.

“Ninety to 95 percent of what [Special Counsel Robert] Mueller had determined in terms of the contacts, the efforts of the Russians to interfere in our election — we had that information.

"And we will have other areas that will frankly be much more extensive than what Mueller had and much more descriptive about the organized, ongoing effort,” Warner told reporters Thursday.

Perhaps it would be embarrassing or uncomfortable for Trump Jr. to answer queries about the famous, long-probed June 2016 Trump Tower meeting with Russian nationals.

But as President Donald Trump references over and over, the Mueller report made no case that the 2016 campaign team criminally conspired with the Kremlin.

And Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) went on Fox News to assure ever-eager Trump helper Sean Hannity: "I think that this is going to have a happy ending.

 “I understand the president’s frustration here. But I think that this is just a blip, I think that the case is closed. I think that the controversy has been concluded.”

So why the worry?

White House loyalists may fear the public at large doesn't buy the "exoneration" narrative. The more Russian meddling is discussed, the less the case seems "closed."

With few exceptions, Senate Republicans are squarely in league with President Trump going into 2020. But they also do not want to be seen as coddling Russian propaganda in Americans' internet feeds.

For months , the White House and the Senate have clashed — on Russia sanctions, the border-wall "emergency," Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Pentagon strategies and health care legislation.

That's bigger than one subpoena.

Perhaps McConnell, by backing Burr here, is sending Trump and kin a message that they will gain nothing from trying to overreach against his house's oversight choices.

Trump, bowing to McConnell's power, treads cautiously in response.

“I was very surprised” at the subpoena, Trump told reporters at the White House on Thursday. “I saw Richard Burr saying there was no collusion two or three weeks ago.”

That is hardly a rebuke to McConnell on Junior's behalf. The president seems to be leaving it to party apparatchiks, such as "persons close" to Don Jr., to work up the bile.

The bottom line: McConnell and his circle call the shots in the Senate — not the president, and more certainly, not the president's offspring.

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