Manafort to testify before House Intel panel on Russia

By Eric DuVall  |  Updated March 24, 2017 at 12:35 PM
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March 24 (UPI) -- Paul Manafort, the former chairman of Donald Trump's presidential campaign, volunteered to interview with the House Intelligence Committee relating to its ongoing probe of Russia's alleged election interference.

Manafort resigned from Trump's campaign during the summer amid infighting and news stories about Manafort's ties to the Kremlin as a political operative who worked for the former Russian-backed president of Ukraine since 2006. His testimony comes as the House Intelligence Committee, its Senate counterpart and the FBI each conduct investigations into the role Russia may have played in meddling in the 2016 election.

The intelligence community said it has broad evidence Russia was behind a series of targeted Internet hacks of Democratic groups, passing embarrassing and politically damaging information about Democrats and Hillary Clinton to the group Wikileaks throughout the campaign.

FBI Director James Comey said agents are investigating whether anyone from Trump's campaign colluded with Russia's effort to influence the election's outcome, though Comey said there is no evidence to suggest that was the case.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., thanked Manafort for volunteering to speak with the committee. The Washington Post reported the interview would happen in private and Manafort would not be administered the oath, though failing to tell the truth when addressing Congress is also a crime.

Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., ranking member on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, speaks about ongoing investigation into the Russian involvement in the 2016 Presidential election, on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. on Friday. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI

Rep. Adam Schiff, the ranking member on the House Intelligence Committee, called out Nunes, who canceled a public hearing with several figures viewed as sympathetic to Democrats, including Sally Yates, the interim attorney general who Trump fired and James Clapper, the former director of national intelligence under President Barack Obama who has flatly denied Trump's accusation his phones were tapped by the government prior to taking office.

Nunes said the hearing was canceled due to scheduling conflicts.

Schiff said Nunes' loyalty to Trump has tainted the panel's investigation, which has grown to include Trump's wiretapping allegations.

"That effort to defend the indefensible has led us down this terrible rabbit hole and threatens the only investigation that is authorized in the House," Schiff said, referring to Trump's wiretapping accusation.

In addition to Manafort's expected testimony, Nunes said Comey and NSA Director Mike Rogers would be brought in to testify in a closed session. Comey's testimony Monday was before the public, prohibiting him from talking about any classified elements of the Russia investigation with lawmakers.

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