Manafort will­ing to be in­ter­viewed

The Denver Post - - NEWS - By Eileen Sul­li­van and Chad Day

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.

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