for three panel invitees.
WASHINGTON — The Senate Judiciary Committee has preapproved subpoenas to force Paul Manafort, President Donald Trump’s former campaign manager, and the president’s son, Donald Trump Jr., to appear before the panel if they do not accept by this evening an invitation to appear next week.
Committee Chairman Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, said Thursday that Manafort, Trump Jr., and a third invited witness, Fusion GPS co-founder Glenn Simpson, have until tonight to accept the invitation to testify in a public hearing scheduled for Wednesday. If they do not accept, Grassley said, subpoenas will be issued “almost immediately.”
“We’ve already authorized” the orders, Grassley said, explaining that Dianne Feinstein, the ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, had also signed off on the orders in advance. “She and I don’t have to take any action — it’s already been taken.”
Lawyers for Manafort, Trump Jr. and Simpson did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
But on Wednesday night, a lawyer for Manafort indicated that his client was still trying to determine which congressional panel to appear before first. Trump Jr.’s lawyer, Alan Futerfas, did not respond to requests for comment about his client’s plans.
Grassley scheduled the two senior Trump campaign surrogates to appear before the panel the same week as the Senate Intelligence Committee plans to interview the president’s senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner.
That interview is scheduled for Monday, according to Kushner’s lawyer — though on Thursday, Sen. Mark Warner, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, indicated the committee also was planning on a second audience with Kushner.
The Monday meeting is “just a staff interview,” Warner said, indicating that he was not planning to attend because “I’m going to see him at another time.” He did not specify when.
Kushner, Manafort and Trump Jr. are all expected to be queried about their interactions with Russian citizens, and specifically about their participation in a June 2016 meeting in Trump tower that was pitched to Trump Jr. as an opportunity for a Kremlin-connected lawyer to offer the Trump campaign damaging information about Hillary Clinton.
There were eight individuals present at the meeting, with the Russian side being represented by Natalia Veselnitskaya, a lawyer who had lobbied against the human-rights sanctions bill known as the Magnitsky Act and its successor, the Global Magnitsky Act; Rinat Akhmetshin, a Russian-American lobbyist with experience serving in a Soviet military intelligence unit; Ike Kaveladze, a U.S.-based employee of a Russian real estate company who was once the subject of a congressional inquiry into money laundering; and a translator. Music producer Rob Goldstone, who had helped broker the meeting, rounded out the crew of those present.
Grassley has not indicated whether the Judiciary Committee plans to call all of the others who were in that meeting as witnesses. But he has scheduled Manafort and Trump Jr.’s testimony to occur concurrently with the testimony of two other witnesses: Simpson of Fusion GPS, and that of William Browder, the chief executive of Hermitage Capital Management, which employed Sergei Magnitsky, the Russian after whom the bills Veselnitskaya has lobbied against were named.
Browder filed a complaint last year that Grassley has seized upon in recent months, alleging that Fusion GPS acted as an unregistered agent of the Russian government. Fusion is a research firm that is behind an unverified dossier detailing unsubstantiated allegations regarding Trump’s activities in Russia. It once did research for the legal team representing the Russian company Prevezon in a civil court case; Prevezon is the company for which Veselnitskaya works.
Separately, a person familiar with the U.S. special counsel investigating possible ties between the Trump campaign and Russia last year said Thursday that the probe is looking into a broad range of transactions involving Trump’s businesses as well as those of his associates.
FBI investigators and others are looking at Russian purchases of apartments in Trump buildings, Trump’s involvement in a controversial SoHo development in New York with Russian associates, the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow and Trump’s sale of a Florida mansion to a Russian oligarch in 2008, the person said.
The investigation also has absorbed a money-laundering probe of Manafort begun by federal prosecutors in New York.
John Dowd, one of Trump’s lawyers, said Thursday that he was unaware of the inquiry into Trump’s businesses by the 2-month-old investigation and considered it beyond the scope of what Special Counsel Robert Mueller should be examining.
“Those transactions are in my view well beyond the mandate of the Special counsel; are unrelated to the election of 2016 or any alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia and most importantly, are well beyond any Statute of Limitation imposed by the United States Code,” he wrote in an email.
Trump told The New York Times on Wednesday that it would be a “violation” of Mueller’s formal authorization if he looked into the president’s personal finances.