Meet­ings on Rus­sia probe

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - FRONT PAGE - AP/MANUEL BALCE CENETA Ar­ti­cle, 2A

Jared Kush­ner (cen­ter) and his at­tor­ney, Abbe Low­ell (right), talk with House In­tel­li­gence Com­mit­tee mem­bers Michael Con­away (left), R-Texas, and Adam Schiff (back to cam­era), D-Calif., af­ter Kush­ner met with the com­mit­tee Tues­day. Paul Manafort, Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s for­mer cam­paign chair­man, met with Se­nate in­ves­ti­ga­tors Tues­day.

WASH­ING­TON — Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s for­mer cam­paign chair­man met with Se­nate in­ves­ti­ga­tors Tues­day, pro­vid­ing his rec­ol­lec­tion of a Trump Tower meet­ing with a Rus­sian lawyer and turn­ing over con­tem­po­ra­ne­ous notes of the gath­er­ing last year, ac­cord­ing to peo­ple fa­mil­iar with the pri­vate in­ter­view.

The ap­pear­ance by Paul Manafort came the same morn­ing that Trump’s son-in­law and ad­viser Jared Kush­ner re­turned to Capi­tol Hill for a sec­ond day of pri­vate meet­ings, this time for a con­ver­sa­tion with law­mak­ers on the House In­tel­li­gence Com­mit­tee.

“Paul Manafort met this morn­ing, by pre­vi­ous agree­ment, with the bi­par­ti­san staff of the Se­nate In­tel­li­gence Com­mit­tee and an­swered their ques­tions fully,” said Ja­son Maloni, Manafort’s spokesman.

Manafort’s pri­vate dis­cus­sion with Se­nate In­tel­li­gence Com­mit­tee staff mem­bers was lim­ited to his rec­ol­lec­tion of the June 2016 meet­ing at Trump Tower, ac­cord­ing to two peo­ple fa­mil­iar with the in­ter­view. In the meet­ing, Manafort, Kush­ner and Don­ald Trump Jr., the pres­i­dent’s el­dest son, met with the Rus­sian lawyer, Natalia Ve­sel­nit­skaya, on the premise that the cam­paign would re­ceive dam­ag­ing in­for­ma­tion about ri­val Hil­lary Clin­ton.

Manafort had pre­vi­ously dis­closed the meet­ing in doc­u­ments he turned over to the com­mit­tee. He has now pro­vided the com­mit­tee with notes he took at the time, said one of the peo­ple, who de­manded anonymity to dis­cuss de­tails be­cause the in­ter­view was pri­vate. The other per­son said Manafort has said he will par­tic­i­pate in ad­di­tional in­ter­views with the Se­nate In­tel­li­gence Com­mit­tee staff on other top­ics if nec­es­sary. Those meet­ings haven’t yet been sched­uled.

The meet­ing, held at the re­quest of Manafort’s le­gal team, came hours af­ter an­other panel, the Se­nate Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee, an­nounced that it is­sued a sub­poena for Manafort to ap­pear at a hear­ing to­day. But the com­mit­tee later Tues­day re­scinded the sub­poena and can­celed his ap­pear­ance. Manafort’s lawyers are now work­ing out how and when he will be in­ter­viewed by that com­mit­tee. The panel is con­duct­ing its own in­ves­ti­ga­tion into pos­si­ble ties be­tween Trump’s cam­paign and the Rus­sian gov­ern­ment.

Manafort has been at the cen­ter of in­quiries into whether Trump’s se­nior ad­vis­ers co­or­di­nated with the Krem­lin’s ef­forts to dis­rupt last year’s elec­tion.

Manafort met with in­ves­ti­ga­tors a day af­ter Kush­ner pro­vided his own ac­count of the June 2016 meet­ing to them. The meet­ing at Trump Tower was set up by Trump Jr., who had been told by an in­ter­me­di­ary that Ve­sel­nit­skaya had com­pro­mis­ing in­for­ma­tion about Clin­ton.

Rep. Mike Con­away, R-Texas, who is lead­ing the House panel’s Rus­sia probe, said af­ter in­ter­view­ing Kush­ner on Tues­day that he found Kush­ner to be “straight­for­ward, forth­com­ing, wanted to an­swer ev­ery ques­tion we had.”

He said Kush­ner was will­ing to fol­low up with the com­mit­tee if it has ad­di­tional ques­tions.

The com­mit­tee’s rank­ing Demo­crat, Rep. Adam Schiff of Cal­i­for­nia, said the ques­tions touched on “a range of is­sues the com­mit­tee had been con­cerned about.”

“We ap­pre­ci­ate his vol­un­tary will­ing­ness to come and tes­tify to­day,” Schiff added.

On Mon­day, Kush­ner an­swered ques­tions from staff mem­bers on the Se­nate’s in­tel­li­gence panel, ac­knowl­edg­ing four meet­ings with Rus­sians dur­ing and af­ter Trump’s vic­to­ri­ous White House bid and in­sist­ing he had “noth­ing to hide.”

In an 11-page state­ment, he ac­knowl­edged his Rus­sian con­tacts dur­ing the cam­paign and im­me­di­ately af­ter the elec­tion, in which he served as a li­ai­son be­tween the tran­si­tion and for­eign gov­ern­ments.

He de­scribed the con­tacts as ei­ther in­signif­i­cant or rou­tine and said they had been omit­ted from his se­cu­rity clear­ance form be­cause of an aide’s er­ror.

“Let me be very clear,” Kush­ner said later in a public state­ment at the White House, “I did not col­lude with Rus­sia, nor do I know of any­one else in the cam­paign who did so.”

The Se­nate Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee has been study­ing the For­eign Agents Reg­is­tra­tion Act, which re­quires any­one who lob­bies in the United States on be­half of for­eign in­ter­ests to dis­close their work to the Jus­tice De­part­ment. The hear­ing with Manafort — orig­i­nally set for to­day — had been sched­uled to fo­cus on that sub­ject. Manafort has dis­closed that his con­sult­ing firm was paid more than $17 mil­lion over two years from a Ukrainian po­lit­i­cal party with links to the Krem­lin.

De­spite Manafort’s ap­pear­ance be­fore the Se­nate In­tel­li­gence Com­mit­tee, the Se­nate Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee has con­tin­ued to press for him to ap­pear sep­a­rately, and late Mon­day, the com­mit­tee is­sued a sub­poena com­pelling Manafort’s ap­pear­ance at a hear­ing to­day.

Ne­go­ti­a­tions over Manafort’s vol­un­tary co­op­er­a­tion broke down af­ter Manafort’s lawyer in­di­cated that he was will­ing to pro­vide only one tran­scribed in­ter­view with con­gres­sional staff, Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee Chair­man Sen. Charles Grass­ley, R-Iowa, and its rank­ing Demo­crat, Sen. Dianne Fe­in­stein of Cal­i­for­nia, said in a joint state­ment.

But later Tues­day, the com­mit­tee re­scinded the sub­poena.

Tay­lor Foy, a spokesman for Grass­ley, said the com­mit­tee with­drew the sub­poena af­ter Manafort agreed to turn over doc­u­ments and to con­tinue ne­go­ti­at­ing an in­ter­view with the panel. The com­mit­tee re­moved Manafort and Trump Jr. from the list of wit­nesses sched­uled for the public hear­ing.

The com­mit­tee also with­drew a sep­a­rate sub­poena is­sued for the co-founder of the re­search firm be­hind a dossier of sala­cious al­le­ga­tions about Trump and his ties to Rus­sia. In­stead, Glenn Simp­son has agreed to a pri­vate in­ter­view, Grass­ley said. He also was re­moved from to­day’s public hear­ing wit­ness list.

“We’ve reached an agree­ment on this re­quest and have with­drawn the sub­poena,” Grass­ley and Fe­in­stein said in a joint state­ment.

Simp­son and Manafort were ini­tially sched­uled to ap­pear on the same panel along with Trump Jr. at to­day’s hear­ing, where law­mak­ers were ex­pected to ask the Trump sur­ro­gates about the Trump Tower meet­ing. In­for­ma­tion for this ar­ti­cle was con­trib­uted by Eileen Sul­li­van, Adam Gold­man and Mag­gie Haber­man of The New York

Times; by Ros­alind S. Helderman, Tom Ham­burger and Ellen Nakashima of The Wash­ing­ton

Post; and by Chad Day, Mary Clare Jalonick, Eric Tucker and staff mem­bers of The As­so­ci­ated Press.


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