Manafort willing to be interviewed
washington» President Donald Trump’s former campaign manager, a key figure in investigations into the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia, has volunteered to be interviewed by lawmakers as part of an increasingly partisan House probe of the Kremlin’s alleged meddling in the 2016 election.
The chairman of the House intelligence committee, Rep. Devin Nunes, on Friday announced the prospect of an interview with Paul Manafort, and Nunes cancelled a previously scheduled public hearing in which former Obama administration officials had agreed to testify about the Russia investigation. Manafort also volunteered to be interviewed by the Senate intelligence committee, which is conducting its own investigation.
It was not clear whether Manafort had offered to testify under oath or in a public hearing.
Manafort volunteered to be interviewed the same week that FBI director James Comey confirmed the existence of an ongoing counterintelligence investigation into possible Trump associates’ coordination with Russia and just days after an Associated Press report revealed Manafort worked with a Russian billionaire with ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin a decade ago.
The confirmation of an ongoing FBI investigation was a blow to the White House, which has described the Russia probe as a ruse. And the new details about Manafort’s ties to a close Putin ally appear to contradict what Trump has previously said about Manafort’s connections.
In February, Manafort said he was never involved with “anything to do with the Russian government or the Putin administration.” Trump has used the denials to assert that “to the best of his knowledge” none of his associates has anything to do with Russia. But documents obtained by the AP reveal Manafort had sought work from a Putin ally and proposed a campaign that he said could “greatly benefit the Putin government.”
Nune on Wednesday told reporters that an undisclosed source had shown him intelligence reports revealing that the communications of Trump transition officials were scooped up through routine surveillance and improperly spread through intelligence agencies. After he briefed reporters, Nunes met with the president.
Democrats said Nunes’ loyalties to Trump appeared to outweigh his commitment to an independent investigation.