Manafort testifies to Senate Intelligence Committee, turns over notes from Trump Tower meeting with Russian lawyer – Washington Post

 In World
(Jenny Starrs/The Washington Post)

Paul Manafort, a top campaign aide to President Trump, appeared before the Senate Intelligence Committee early Tuesday morning to answer questions about Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

Before his voluntary interview, Manafort submitted to the committee notes that he took at a meeting with a Russian lawyer he and other campaign aides attended during the presidential campaign, a person familiar with the investigation said.

The notes could provide a key contemporaneous account of a meeting that has emerged as a focus of investigations into Russia’s interference in the 2016 campaign by both Congress and Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

Manafort’s testimony had been widely anticipated but took place without prior announcement early Tuesday, hours before senior White House adviser Jared Kushner appeared before the House Intelligence Committee.

Jason Maloni, a Manafort spokesman, said he met “with the bipartisan staff of the Senate Intelligence Committee and answered their questions fully.”

The Tuesday morning interview was held at the request of Manafort’s legal team, specifically for the purpose of discussing the June 2016 meeting he participated in with Kushner, the president’s son, Donald Trump, Jr., a Russian lawyer with purported Kremlin ties and others with various connections to Russia, according to a person familiar with the meeting. Manafort’s lawyers have agreed to make him available to speak with Senate Intelligence Committee staffers and members in the future to discuss other issues, the person said.

Manafort’s appearance came as he has been engaged in intense negotiations with congressional committees about how and when to provide testimony.

Despite his 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 on Wednesday.

Team Trump’s ties to Russian interests

In a joint statement, committee chairman Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) and its ranking Democrat, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (California), said negotiations over Manafort’s voluntary cooperation broke down after Manafort’s lawyer indicated he was willing to provide only one transcribed interview with congressional staff.

“While the Judiciary Committee was willing to cooperate on equal terms with any other committee to accommodate Mr. Manafort’s request, ultimately that was not possible,” they said.

Grassley and Feinstein said they were willing to continue talks to excuse Manafort from the hearing if he agreed to voluntarily provide documents and an interview to their committee.

“Paul has been cooperative from the beginning, and we are confident we can work something out,” Maloni said.

On Tuesday, Grassley and Feinstein announced they had reached an arrangement with another witness they subpoenaed to appear Wednesday: Glenn Simpson of Fusion GPS, a firm behind a dossier filled with salacious but unverified details about time Trump spent in Moscow. Simpson initially said through his lawyer that he would invoke his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination if forced to testify, but agreed, according to Feinstein and Grassley, to a transcribed interview behind closed doors.

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