Paul Manafort to face Capitol Hill grilling

Paul Manafort, the former Donald Trump campaign manager who stepped down when hints of Russian connections had the possibility of derailing Trump’s campaign, will voluntarily appear before the House Intelligence Committee.

“Mr. Manafort instructed his representatives to reach out to committee staff and offer to provide information voluntarily regarding recent allegations about Russian interference in the election,” Manafort’s spokesperson said in a statement. “As Mr. Manafort has always maintained, he looks forward to meeting with those conducting serious investigations of these issues to discuss the facts.”

Mr. Manafort has offered to appear before the Senate Intelligence Committee as well, according to a Senate official who requested anonymity to discuss committee business.

Manafort has been dogged by questions about his past and present connections to regimes of questionable character including former Ukraine President Viktor F. Yanukovych, former Zaire President Mobutu Sese Seko, and Philippine despot Ferdinand Marcos. Another recent client was Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, a billionaire with direct ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The ongoing investigation by Congress into alleged Kremlin interference in the 2016 presidential election and further allegations of collusion by associates of Donald Trump with Russian interests are the pretext for the inquiry of Manafort and others.

Disgraced former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, who was ousted in what seemed like a mere hours into officially filling the role, is in new hot water over failure to register as a foreign agent for work his firm performed for Turkish interests and stands accused of discussing the extra-judicial extradition of a cleric wanted by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Former Manafort colleague, Trump campaign staffer and constant media surrogate, Roger Stone, has also been targeted by some as another Russian collaborator although Stone maintains that he is also willing to testify at any time. Manafort was initially approached by the Trump campaign at Stone’s urging at the time when it seemed possible that the 2016 Republican National Convention might result in a brokered vote.

Stone’s public statements regarding WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and his purported trove of intelligence have been murky at best. Several times Stone has reversed his assertions and distanced himself from what would otherwise look to be extremely prescient predictions if he did not have direct knowledge of exactly what WikiLeaks planned on releasing and when.

 

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