Manafort, Trump Jr. in talks with Senate panel
Washington — President Donald Trump’s eldest son and his former campaign chairman have agreed to discuss being privately interviewed by a Senate committee investigating Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election, the panel confirmed Friday.
The top Republican and Democrat on the Senate Judiciary committee said Donald Trump Jr. and Paul Manafort agreed to negotiate with the committee about being interviewed by members and staff as well as to discuss the possibility of turning over documents.
The joint statement from Sens. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., said the committee will not subpoena the two men to force them to testify publicly next week, though it could do so in the future.
Both men face questions about attending a Trump Tower meeting with a Russian lawyer in June 2016 that was described to Trump Jr. in emails as part of a Russian government effort to help his father’s campaign. Trump Jr. was told the lawyer had damaging information that could be used against Democrat Hillary Clinton.
The revelation of the meeting renewed questions about the Trump’s campaign’s possible connections with Russia and put some of Trump’s inner circle at the forefront of ongoing federal and congressional probes.
Manafort spokesman Jason Maloni declined to comment on the committee’s announcement.
Word of the negotiations comes as the president’s legal team evaluates potential conflicts of interest among members of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigative team, according to three people with knowledge of the matter. Mueller’s probe into Russia’s election meddling also appears likely to include some of the Trump family’s business ties.
Attorney Jay Sekulow, a member of the president’s external legal team, told The Associated Press on Thursday that the lawyers “will consistently evaluate the issue of conflicts and raise them in the appropriate venue.”
Two of the people with knowledge of that process say those efforts include probing the political affiliations of Mueller’s investigators and their past work history. Trump himself has publicly challenged Mueller, declaring this week that the former FBI director would be crossing a line if he investigated the president’s personal business ties.
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