Politics

Grassley, Feinstein Issue Subpoena for Manafort Testimony

Committee wants Trump campaign chief to appear on Wednesday

Then-GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump (left) and his then-campaign manager Paul Manafort at the 2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland last July. Senators want to hear from Manafort, possibly this week, about Russia. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The Republican and Democratic leaders of the Senate Judiciary Committee said Tuesday they saw no choice but to use a subpoena to compel Donald Trump’s former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, to testify on Wednesday.

Chairman Charles E. Grassley, R-Iowa, and ranking member Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., said in a statement they were “willing to accommodate” Manafort’s requests to cooperate with the committee’s investigation without appearing at Wednesday’s hearing, but they “were unable to reach an agreement” for his desire to provide “only a single transcribed interview to Congress, which would not be available to the Judiciary Committee members or staff.”

Not being able to settle that, they issued a subpoena Monday evening. 

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Lawmakers want to hear from Manafort about a range of issues related to the 2016 presidential election. The list includes allegations that Trump campaign officials colluded with the Russian government to ding Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and his personal financial ties to Russian entities.

His testimony, should it occur on Wednesday, would follow Monday and Tuesday appearances by Trump’s son-in-law, campaign adviser and now senior White House aide Jared Kushner to staff members on the Senate and House Intelligence committees.

Like Kushner’s testimony, Manafort’s session would occur behind closed doors and he would not be under oath. Donald Trump Jr. also is expected to testify before the Judiciary Committee on Wednesday.

Much focus likely will be on a June 9, 2016, meeting at Trump Tower that was set up by Trump Jr. and a family business associate. Emails the president’s eldest son tweeted out recently show he agreed to the meeting believing the campaign would be given dirt on Clinton.

Manafort and Kushner also attended, but Kushner told the Senate Intelligence Committee staffers on Monday that he did not read the entire email chain about the meeting, did not know what it was about, and left early.

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Grassley and Feinstien said they “may be willing to excuse him from Wednesday’s hearing if he would be willing to agree to production of documents and a transcribed interview.”

But such an arrangement also would come with this string, they added: an “understanding that the interview would not constitute a waiver of his rights or prejudice the committee’s right to compel his testimony in the future.”

President Trump earlier Monday went on a Twitter tirade about his Justice Department, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the acting FBI director who is involved in DOJ’s Russia probe, and — though indirectly — the congressional panels also probing the matter.

Trump tweeted that Kushner “did very well yesterday in proving he did not collude with the Russians.” The president again labeled the entire matter a “Witch Hunt,” then — appearing to mock the congressional investigators — added that “next up” would be his youngest son, “11 year old Barron Trump!”

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