Dems’ next target in Russia narrative: Paul Manafort

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The Senate Judiciary Committee wants Paul Manafort, President Trump’s former campaign chairman, to testify about Donald Trump Jr.’s now-famous meeting with a Russian attorney last June. Manafort, along with senior adviser Jared Kushner, sat in on the meeting with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya in Manhattan’s Trump Tower.

“Obviously it would be appropriate for anybody to get into anything that went on at that meeting, and he was at that meeting,” said committee chairman Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) on Wednesday.

According to Grassley, he and the committee’s ranking member, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) want to bring Manafort before the panel for questioning about the government’s enforcement of a law requiring registration of foreign lobbyists.

In a separate investigation, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), the ranking member on the House intelligence committee, said his panel is probing the use of Russian social media “trolls” and wants to know whether they were connected to the Trump election campaign. Kushner was the head of digital strategy for the campaign.

“One of the biggest crimes we’re looking at is the hacking of data, so understanding how it was used certainly needs to be part of the investigation,” said committee member Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.). “We want to understand what data was hacked, where it was stored and if it was weaponized at all, whether it was by Russia or the campaign.”

In an interview before he left for France on Wednesday evening, President Trump told Reuters that he didn’t know about his son’s meeting with the Russian lawyer “until a couple of days ago when I heard about this.” He added, “I think many people would have held that meeting.”

Trump remains steadfast in his assertions that he won the presidential election fair and square. “There was zero coordination” between his campaign and Russia,” he told Reuters, adding, “It’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard.”

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