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Trump Jr., Manafort in talks with Senate panel

  • FILE - In this July 17, 2016 file photo, Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort talks to reporters on the floor of the Republican National Convention at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland as Rick Gates listens at back left. President Donald Trump’s eldest son and his former campaign chairman are agreeing to discuss being privately interviewed by a Senate committee investigating Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File) Matt Rourke

  • FILE - In this July 11, 2017, file photo, Donald Trump Jr. is interviewed by host Sean Hannity on his Fox News Channel television program, in New York. President Donald Trump’s eldest son and his former campaign chairman are agreeing to discuss being privately interviewed by a Senate committee investigating Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election. (AP Photo/Richard Drew) Richard Drew

  • Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., center, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, leaves after a closed-door meeting of that panel on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, July 20, 2017. The Senate intelligence committee has scheduled perhaps the most high-profile testimony involving the Russian meddling probes since former FBI Director James Comey appeared in June. A lawyer for Trump's powerful son-in-law and adviser says Jared Kushner will speak to the Senate intelligence committee Monday. Donald Trump Jr. is scheduled to appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee next Wednesday along with former campaign chairman Paul Manafort. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite) J. Scott Applewhite

  • In this Jan. 17, 2017 file photo, New York financier Anthony Scaramucci speaks at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Scaramucci is under consideration to join the Trump administration as communications director. That’s according to two people with knowledge of the situation who spoke on condition of anonymity in order to discuss internal deliberations. Scaramucci is a frequent defender of the president on television and was a fixture at Trump Tower during Trump’s transition. (AP Photo/Michel Euler, File) Michel Euler



Associated Press
Friday, July 21, 2017

President Donald Trump’s eldest son and his former campaign chairman are discussing being privately interviewed by a Senate committee investigating Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election, the panel confirmed Friday.

The committee initially called for Donald Trump Jr. and Paul Manafort to appear publicly next week. But the top Republican and Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee now say the men are negotiating the terms of their appearances, and lawmakers don’t currently plan to issue subpoenas to force them to publicly testify.

In a joint statement, Sens. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., also said they are negotiating with Trump Jr. and Manafort about possibly turning over documents.

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.

Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and top White House aide, also attended the meeting. He is scheduled to speak behind closed doors with the Senate intelligence committee Monday and with the House intelligence committee Tuesday.

The revelation of the Trump Tower meeting renewed questions about the Trump 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. Trump Jr. attorney Alan Futerfas did not respond to several attempts by The Associated Press to contact him this week, including calls and emails Friday.

Also Friday, the Washington Post reported that the Russian ambassador to the U.S. has said he discussed election-related issues with Sen. Jeff Sessions when the two men met during the 2016 presidential race.

The Post cited anonymous U.S. officials who described U.S. intelligence intercepts of Ambassador Sergey Kislyak’s descriptions of his meetings with Sessions, who was then a foreign policy adviser to Trump and now serves as attorney general.

Justice Department spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores said Sessions stands by his previous assertion that he never had conversations with Russian officials about any type of interference with the election.

Word of the negotiations with Trump Jr. and Manafort 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. The people insisted on anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly.

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.

The White House push against the special counsel’s probe and the attempts to put the focus on potential conflicts with Mueller’s team may well be an effort to distract from snowballing federal and congressional investigations into possible election-year coordination between Trump’s campaign and Russia. While Trump has assailed the probes as a partisan “witch hunt,” the investigations have increasingly ensnared his family and close advisers.