Ex-Trump aide agrees to talk to House panel
Manafort is a key figure in probes of Russian meddling.
Former campaign manager Paul Manafort volunteers to be interviewed in probe of Russian meddling in the 2016 election.
President WASHINGTON — Donald Trump’s former campaign manager, a key figure in investigations into the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia, has volunteered to be questioned by lawmakers as part of a House probe of the Kremlin’s alleged meddling in the 2016 election.
U.S. Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., chairman of the House intelligence committee, told reporters on Friday that Paul Manafort’s lawyer contacted the panel on Thursday to offer lawmakers the opportunity to interview him. It was not clear if Manafort had offered to testify under oath or in a public hearing, and Nunes said those details had not been determined.
Manafort volunteered to be interviewed by the committee on the same week a decade ago that he worked for a Russian billionaire. Manafort wrote in a strategy memo obtained by the AP that he would work to “benefit the Putin Government.”
Nunes also announced that a previously scheduled public hearing with former Obama administration officials would not take place Tuesday as planned.
Nunes’ focus for people to interview as part of the committee’s investigation has primarily been current and former government officials with insight into the investigation. When asked about whether he would call Trump associates, he has said people can volunteer to be interviewed if they want to.
“We’re not going to get into a neo-McCarthyism era here where we just start bringing in Americans because they were mentioned in a press story,” Nunes said. “I’m highly concerned about that. Now, if people want to come in freely, we will do that.”
The top Democrat on the committee, Adam Schiff, said he disagreed with the chairman’s decision to cancel the public hearing. The former directors of national intelligence and the CIA and the former acting attorney general had agreed to testify publicly on March 28.
“I think this is a serious mistake,” Schiff said Friday.
He said the committee’s hearing on Monday demonstrates how important it is that these inquiries be conducted publicly. During that hearing, FBI Director James Comey confirmed there was an ongoing counterintelligence investigation into whether Trump associates coordinated with the Russians to influence the 2016 election.
“That, of course, is very significant information for the public,” Schiff said.
In a statement released Friday, Manafort’s spokesman, Jason Maloni, said the former Trump campaign chairman had agreed to specifically “provide information voluntarily regarding recent allegations about Russian interference in the election.”
U.S. Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., chairman of the House intelligence committee, tells the press Friday about the offer from Paul Manafort’s lawyer.