Lawmakers to question Trump campaign chairman
WASHINGTON» The scope of congressional investigations into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential contest came into sharper focus Wednesday as lawmakers said they intended to question the former chairman of the Trump campaign and to determine whether Russian social media “trolls” were connected to Trump’s election efforts.
The Senate Judiciary Committee plans to question former campaign chairman Paul Manafort and will subpoena him if necessary, according to the panel’s Republican chairman, Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa. He said he and the committee’s top Democrat, Dianne Feinstein of California, have agreed to try to bring Manafort before the panel for questioning about the government’s enforcement of a law requiring registration of foreign lobbyists. Feinstein’s office confirmed that they plan to question him.
Manafort also certainly would be asked about his participation in a Trump Tower meeting last summer with President Donald Trump’s eldest son and son-in-law, where the purpose was to hear potentially damaging information about Hillary Clinton from a Russian lawyer.
Manafort disclosed the meeting in a package of information he provided to the Senate and House intelligence committees, who have been investigating potential coordination between Russia and the Trump campaign, as is Robert Mueller, the former FBI director appointed by the Justice Department as the special counsel.
“Obviously it would be appropriate for anybody to get into anything that went on at that meeting, and he was at that meeting,” Grassley told Iowa reporters.
A person close to Manafort said he hasn’t yet received a letter from the Senate Judiciary Committee about a possible interview.
A spokesman for Grassley said Wednesday afternoon that Grassley was working with Mueller to ensure that any plans to question Manafort don’t conflict with any criminal investigation.
If conflicts do exist, the spokesman said, the senator will “work to find a way for the committee to proceed with its oversight responsibility.”
Separately, Rep. Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House intelligence committee, said his panel wants to look at the use of Russian social media “trolls” and whether they were connected to the Trump election campaign.