- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 25, 2017

A turf war has broken into the open between two Senate committees doing the deepest digging into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

Tuesday’s turf battle revolved around news from the Senate Judiciary Committee, which issued a subpoena for Paul Manafort, for a time Mr. Trump’s campaign manager in 2016, to appear at a Wednesday hearing. The Senate intelligence committee, conducting its own probe of the Russian meddling scandal, offered the Judiciary panel a transcript of its interview with Mr. Manafort, but the Judiciary leadership reportedly rejected the offer.

Late Tuesday it was announced that the Senate Judiciary Committee had dropped its subpoena for Mr. Manafort, and negotiations are underway for the former Trump campaign chairman to speak to investigators.

Mr. Manafort’s lawyers are also said to be wary of public testimony, especially since Wednesday’s Judiciary Committee hearing was to have focused on Washington lobbyists who work for foreign interests. Recently, Mr. Manafort has admitted a Ukrainian political party with Kremlin ties paid more than $17 million to his consulting firm.

Presidential son-in-law and White House aide Jared Kushner, meanwhile, spent his second straight day answering questions behind closed doors about his knowledge of any Russian collusion. A day after he issued a lengthy and detailed rebuttal to charges the Trump presidential campaign ever colluded with Russia, Mr. Kushner spent three hours answering questions from members of the House intelligence committee.

Little news emerged from Mr. Kushner’s meeting. But anonymous sources familiar with Mr. Manafort’s interview said he agreed to future interviews with the Senate intelligence committee.

Mr. Manafort and Mr. Kushner all attended at least part of a June 2016 meeting organized by Donald Trump Jr., President Trump’s elder son, with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya, who promised damaging information about Hillary Clinton’s campaign. It was unclear where and when congressional investigators will meet with Donald Trump Jr. about his role in the campaign and possible links to Russia.

The Associated Press reported Tuesday that Mr. Manafort provided his recollection of a Trump Tower meeting with Ms. Veselnitskaya and agreed to turn over contemporaneous notes of the gathering last year, citing what it said were people familiar with the closed-door interview.

Mr. Manafort met privately with bipartisan staff of the Senate intelligence committee and “answered their questions fully,” according to his spokesman, Jason Maloni.

In other developments, the Senate Judiciary Committee also withdrew a separate subpoena for the testimony of the co-founder of the Washington-based political research firm Fusion GPS, which commissioned the explosive and largely unsubstantiated anti-Trump campaign research dossier. Instead of rejecting the subpoena and invoking his Fifth Amendment rights, Fusion GPS’s Glenn Simpson has agreed to a private interview.

The former Wall Street Journal reporter has been a key figure in the Russian election-meddling saga ever since the dossier, which alleged a yearslong Kremlin conspiracy to elect Mr. Trump.

Donald Trump Jr. over the weekend added a lawyer with congressional experience to his legal team, Karina Lynch, who previously worked as an investigator for Sen. Chuck Grassley, according to her law firm biography.

Donald Trump Jr. reportedly remains in negotiation with the committee about the extent and details of an interview to provide testimony. Democrats have voiced opposition to speculation he will not be put under oath when answering questions.

An oath is more symbolic than legal, and Mr. Grassley reminded members of that.

“It’s a crime to lie to Congress,” he tweeted on Monday, regardless of whether a person is placed under oath — adding that an interview with himself and committee ranking Sen. Dianne Feinstein, California Democrat, “is no walk in the park.”

 

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