Capi­tol Hill pan­els plan next moves af­ter Comey, Ses­sions.

Kush­ner, Flynn face ex­tra scru­tiny over their al­leged Rus­sia con­nec­tions

The Washington Times Daily - - FRONT PAGE - BY DAN BOY­LAN

Con­gres­sional in­ves­ti­ga­tors are mov­ing to a new phase in the mul­ti­ple probes now ex­plor­ing al­leged Rus­sian med­dling in the 2016 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion, with White House aide Jared Kush­ner and fired Na­tional Se­cu­rity Ad­viser Michael Flynn among those fac­ing new scru­tiny.

The past two weeks have seen a num­ber of key fig­ures in the probe tes­ti­fy­ing in pub­lic on Capi­tol Hill, capped by the high drama pro­duced by fired FBI Di­rec­tor James B. Comey and At­tor­ney Gen­eral Jeff Ses­sions in Se­nate in­tel­li­gence com­mit­tee hear­ings less that a week apart. Also tes­ti­fy­ing have been act­ing FBI Di­rec­tor An­drew McCabe, Deputy At­tor­ney Gen­eral Rod Rosen­stein, Na­tional In­tel­li­gence Di­rec­tor Dan Coats and Na­tional Se­cu­rity Agency Di­rec­tor Adm. Michael Rogers.

The hear­ings have re­vealed a host of new in­ves­tiga­tive strands, in­clud­ing charges that Mr. Comey en­gi­neered the leak of memos re­count­ing his pri­vate meet­ings with Pres­i­dent Trump in a suc­cess­ful bid to get a spe­cial pros­e­cu­tor ap­pointed; a shift from a fo­cus on pos­si­ble Trump-Rus­sia col­lu­sion to one on whether Mr. Trump and his aides tried to ob­struct jus­tice; and grow­ing Repub­li­can im­pa­tience to wind down the probes quickly if no new ev­i­dence emerges against the pres­i­dent.

A day af­ter Mr. Ses­sions stoutly de­nied any col­lu­sion with Rus­sian agents when he was a top Trump cam­paign ad­viser, Se­nate in­tel­li­gence com­mit­tee Chair­man Sen. Richard Burr and rank­ing Demo­crat Sen. Mark R. Warner met pri­vately on Capi­tol Hill for the first time with spe­cial coun­sel Robert Mueller. Mr. Mueller is con­duct­ing his own Depart­ment of Jus­tice probe into the Rus­sia is­sue in the wake of Mr. Comey’s fir­ing by Mr. Trump last month.

A Wash­ing­ton Post re­port re­leased late Wed­nes­day, cit­ing un­named sources, said that Mr. Mueller’s team is al­ready mov­ing to in­ter­view Mr. Coats, Adm. Rogers and a for­mer Rogers aide as part of a widen­ing probe that is now look­ing into charges that Mr. Trump tried to ob­struct jus­tice by short-cir­cuit­ing the Rus­sia probe. A spokesman for Mr. Trump’s per­sonal at­tor­ney, Marc Ka­sowitz, an­grily de­nounced the “FBI leak of in­for­ma­tion” about Mr. Mueller’s probe, call­ing it “ou­tra­geous, in­ex­cus­able and il­le­gal.”

It was pre­vi­ously re­ported that both Mr. Coats and Adm. Rogers balked when Mr. Trump called them in March to is­sue pub­lic state­ments to deny the FBI had any ev­i­dence of col­lu­sion be­tween his cam­paign and the Rus­sian gov­ern­ment last year.

Mr. Burr said panel mem­bers want to as­sure their in­ves­ti­ga­tion does not con­flict with Mr. Mueller’s work and co­or­di­nates all re­quests for ev­i­dence, in­ter­views and pos­si­ble grants of im­mu­nity.

The Se­nate com­mit­tee mem­bers are soon ex­pected to meet with Mr. Kush­ner, who is mar­ried to Mr. Trump’s daugh­ter, Ivanka. Mr. Kush­ner ran the Trump cam­paign’s dig­i­tal voter out­reach strat­egy and has come un­der in­creas­ing scru­tiny for con­tacts he al­legedly had with busi­ness in­ter­ests tied to Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin be­fore Mr. Trump was in­au­gu­rated in Jan­uary.

Mr. Kush­ner will re­port­edly pro­vide the com­mit­tee with doc­u­ments it has re­quested, in ad­di­tion to fac­ing ques­tions from sen­a­tors. When ex­actly he’ll meet with the com­mit­tee has yet to be de­ter­mined.

Mr. Flynn left the White House af­ter ly­ing about the ex­tent of his for­eign con­tacts in Fe­bru­ary. The Se­nate com­mit­tee re­cently re­ceived doc­u­ments from Mr. Flynn, but the re­tired army lieu­tenant-gen­eral also in­voked his Fifth Amend­ment rights rather than com­ply with a sub­poena to tes­tify.

Com­mit­tee in­ves­ti­ga­tors are also work­ing through in­for­ma­tion from for­mer Trump cam­paign Chair­man Paul Manafort and for­mer cam­paign ad­viser Roger Stone. Mr. Stone’s at­tor­ney, Robert Buschel, said his client has com­plied with the com­mit­tee’s doc­u­ment re­quests and an­swered its ques­tions.

Separately, the Se­nate Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee has re­quested that Mr. Comey hand over his pri­vate memos on his deal­ing with Mr. Trump, de­tails of which he also leaked to the me­dia. Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee sources say Mr. Comey has thus far re­fused to co­op­er­ate, de­clin­ing to hand over the memos and de­clin­ing an in­vi­ta­tion to tes­tify.

The House in­tel­li­gence com­mit­tee is also watch­ing Mr. Mueller’s probe, but its mem­bers could soon have the chance to learn more about al­le­ga­tions that top Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cials in­ap­pro­pri­ately sought to “un­mask” the iden­ti­ties of Trump tran­si­tion per­son­nel redacted in U.S. sur­veil­lance oper­a­tions against for­eign tar­gets.

The com­mit­tee ear­lier this month is­sued sub­poe­nas to the CIA, FBI and NSA for in­for­ma­tion on al­leged un­mask­ing re­quests made by for­mer Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion Na­tional Se­cu­rity Ad­viser Su­san Rice, for­mer CIA Di­rec­tor John O. Bren­nan and for­mer U.S. Am­bas­sador to the U.N. Su­san Power.

Sub­poe­nas have been is­sued for Mr. Flynn and long­time Trump per­sonal at­tor­ney Michael Co­hen. In ad­di­tion to be­ing per­son­ally named, com­pa­nies run by each of the men were also the tar­get of sub­poe­nas.

The com­mit­tee also wants Mr. Comey’s memos and any tapes of the same White House meet­ings Mr. Trump im­plied on Twit­ter that he might have made.


Sen­a­tors want to meet Jared Kush­ner, Pres­i­dent Trump’s son-in-law, to dis­cuss con­tacts he al­legedly had with Rus­sian busi­ness in­ter­ests tied to Vladimir Putin.

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