Trump's son, close aides to testify before Senate panels

Former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort (top) and Mr Donald Trump Jr (centre) have been asked to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee, while the President's son-in-law Jared Kushner (bottom) is scheduled to be interviewed by the Senate I
Former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort (left) and Mr Donald Trump Jr (centre) have been asked to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee, while the President's son-in-law Jared Kushner (right) is scheduled to be interviewed by the Senate Intelligence Committee.

WASHINGTON • President Donald Trump's son Donald Trump Jr, son-in-law Jared Kushner and former campaign manager Paul Manafort have been asked to appear before US Senate committees next week to answer questions about the campaign's alleged connections to Russia, officials have said.

The three men are the closest associates of the President to be called to speak to lawmakers involved in investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 US presidential election and possible collusion with the Trump campaign.

Mr Trump, who came into office in January, has been dogged by allegations that his campaign officials were connected to Russia, which US intelligence agencies have accused of interfering in last year's election. Mr Trump has denied any collusion.

The US Senate Judiciary Committee said on Wednesday it had called Mr Trump's eldest son, Mr Donald Trump Jr, and Mr Manafort to testify next Wednesday at a hearing.

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The President's son had released e-mails earlier this month that showed him eagerly agreeing to meet last year with a woman he was told was a Russian government lawyer who might have damaging information about Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

The meeting was also attended by Mr Manafort and Mr Kushner, who is now a senior adviser at the White House. Mr Kushner is scheduled to be interviewed by the Senate Intelligence Committee behind closed doors on Monday.

A special counsel, Mr Robert Mueller, is also conducting an investigation into Russian meddling in the US election and any collusion between Moscow and Mr Trump's campaign.

The panel requested a wide range of documents by Aug 2 from Mr Trump Jr, Mr Manafort, the Trump campaign and the President's private business regarding efforts to meet Russians, obtain information about Mrs Clinton and potentially coordinate with Russian meddling in the election.

The Judiciary Committee wants any record of interactions before and after last year's meeting with the Russians. It also goes far broader, seeking records relating to dozens of other people, including Russian President Vladimir Putin, numerous other Russians and even Green Party candidate Jill Stein.

Mr Chuck Grassley, the committee's Republican chairman, has said he wanted to question the Trump associates, but has also raised concerns about why the Obama administration allowed Ms Natalia Veselnitskaya, the Russian lawyer who attended the Trump Tower meeting in June last year, into the United States.

He also has called before the committee and threatened to subpoena Mr Glenn Simpson, a co- founder of Fusion GPS, a firm that commissioned former British intelligence agent Christopher Steele to dig up opposition research on Mr Trump when he was a presidential candidate.

Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, a Democratic member of the Judiciary Committee, said the committee's hearing would enable the panel to begin to get testimony under oath.

"There has been an enormous amount that has been said publicly, but it is not under oath, which means that people are free to omit matters or lie with relative impunity," Mr Whitehouse told CNN.

REUTERS, BLOOMBERG

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 21, 2017, with the headline 'Trump's son, close aides to testify before Senate panels'. Print Edition | Subscribe