The Senate Judiciary Committee plans to call one-time Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort — newly ensnared in the latest controversy surrounding the campaign’s communications with Russia — to appear before the panel, with the committee’s leaders vowing to use its subpoena power if needed.
Manafort was among the recipients of an e-mail chain sent to Donald Trump Jr., the president’s son, that detailed plans to arrange a meeting between a Russian government lawyer willing to share damaging information about Hillary Clinton. One source close to Manafort previously told POLITICO that he did not read all the way to the bottom of the e-mail chain and did not know who the Russian attorney was.
Still, the former campaign chairman also attended that meeting with the younger Trump and the attorney, Russian attorney Natalia Veselnitskaya.
“This is the chairman’s suggestion,” Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said Wednesday of the committee’s plans to ask Manafort to appear. “It gives us the ability to ask some questions that need to be asked about a specific email chain. And he was party to the discussion.”
Feinstein, the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, said she backs a subpoena if necessary, noting that “we are the committee of jurisdiction and therefore we have to carry that out, and this is an important matter.”
The committee’s chairman, Chuck Grassley of Iowa, said during his weekly conference call with Iowa reporters, that his main reason for wanting to speak with Manafort is to learn whether the Foreign Agent Registration Act “has been adequately enforced by this administration” and its predecessors, according to the Des Moines Register.
“I think it’s been lackadaisical enforcement and he would be an example of that lackadaisical enforcement,” Grassley told Iowa reporters. But he added that questions about the Veselnitskaya meeting were also fair game: “If he comes before our committee – and we’ll subpoena him if necessary – then … obviously it’d be appropriate for anybody to get into anything that went on at that meeting, since he was at that meeting.”