Donald Trump Jr. & Paul Manafort Will Testify Before The Senate
The Senate Judiciary Committee announced Wednesday that Donald Trump Jr. and Paul Manafort will testify in a public hearing next week. The two will be grilled about their meeting with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya, who herself said she's ready to testify before the Senate whenever she's called upon to do so.
On Wednesday, the two will appear before a panel to discuss reports that Trump Jr. was specifically meeting with Veselnitskaya because he believed she had incriminating evidence on Hillary Clinton. Trump Jr. himself confirmed these reports when he tweeted out the email thread in which he talked about the meeting, declaring "I love it" when told about the potential dirt he could receive. Veselnitskaya has denied ever having "dirt" on Clinton, claiming that she is a private citizen not linked to the Russian government, and merely wanted to talk to Trump about the Magnitsky Act and her qualms with it.
Manafort, President Trump's former campaign chairman, also attended the meeting. The FBI has been investigating Manafort's ties to Russia for several months in connection with his work on the Trump team. He resigned under pressure over his previous work with Ukraine and Russia. Manafort denied wrongdoing, and said he was merely resigning because he didn't "want to be a distraction for the campaign."
Jared Kushner was also at the controversial meeting, and is slated to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Monday. His testimony will be closed to the public, likely because he has security clearance and is privy to sensitive information. However, many Democrats are calling for Kushner's security clearance to be revoked, given his attendance at the meeting.
On Tuesday, Robert Mueller, the special counsel for the Russia investigation, declared Trump Jr. and Manafort were free to testify publicly, and that it would not step on the toes of the Department of Justice's case. The Senate Judiciary Committee is also investigating potential links between Russia and the Trump campaign during the 2016 election.
Former FBI Director James Comey testified before the Judiciary Committee a couple of months ago, where he revealed that he documented his interactions with President Trump, including an awkward one-on-one meeting in which Trump reportedly told Comey that he hoped the FBI director would let go of the investigation into former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. Comey also said Trump asked for loyalty from him.
Jeff Sessions has also testified about Russia, but before the Senate Intelligence Committee, which is also investigating the case. During that testimony, Sessions denied wrongdoing and spoke about his contact with Sergey Kislyak, but mostly refused to answer questions in an open setting.
Trump Jr. and Manafort will likely be asked about more than just the meeting with Veselnitskaya. As part of the Senate Judiciary Committee's investigation into Russia and the Trump campaign, questions could veer into broader territory, like any other potential conversations or gatherings members of the Trump team might have had with Russians. Of course, they could refuse to answer certain questions, like both Comey and Sessions did, but some sort of new information will undoubtedly come from the testimonies.