Trump Jr, Manafort want private testimony
President Donald Trump’s eldest son and his former campaign chairman won’t testify publicly next week, and are instead discussing being privately interviewed by a Senate committee investigating Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election.
The committee initially called for Donald Trump Jr and Paul Manafort to appear publicly Wednesday.
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 appear.
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 campaign’s possible connections with Russia, and put some of Trump’s inner circle at the forefront of ongoing federal and congressional probes.
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.
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.