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Senate Judiciary Committee Subpoenas Manafort After Negotiations Fall Through

Paul Manafort, campaign chairman for Donald Trump, is seen in New York on June 9, 2016. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File)

WASHINGTON — The Senate Judiciary Committee has issued a subpoena to force former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort to testify at a Wednesday open hearing.

The hearing, titled “Oversight of the Foreign Agents Registration Act and Attempts to Influence U.S. Elections: Lessons Learned from Current and Prior Administrations,” is separated into two panels. Up first to testify will be Deputy Assistant Attorney General Adam Hickey from the National Security Division at the Department of Justice, FBI Assistant Director Bill Priestap of the Counterintelligence Division, and DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz.

The second panel, in the announcement issued by the committee, begins with Hermitage Capital Management CEO Bill Browder. It was one of Hermitage’s lawyers, Sergei Magnitsky, who discovered massive Russian government fraud that led to Magnitsky’s imprisonment, torture, and 2009 death, and the Magnitsky Act human rights sanctions against Russia passed by Congress. Browder said on his Twitter account that he plans on testifying.

Also on the witness list was Glenn Simpson of Fusion GPS, the company that was hired by Republicans in 2015 to do opposition research on Donald Trump and then retained by Democrats after Trump secured the GOP nomination. The firm used former MI-6 agent Christopher Steele to research Trump, information that would compose the infamous dossier that began circulating during campaign season and was brought to the attention of President Obama and President-elect Trump by the intelligence community in January.

Politico reported this morning that the Judiciary Committee is pulling back on its subpoena to compel Simpson to testify in public. Instead, the committee is amenable to Simpson testifying behind closed doors.

Manafort and Donald Trump Jr. round out the witness list. In a joint statement today, Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said that “while we were willing to accommodate Mr. Manafort’s request to cooperate with the committee’s investigation without appearing at Wednesday’s hearing, we were unable to reach an agreement for a voluntary transcribed interview with the Judiciary Committee.”

“Mr. Manafort, through his attorney, said that he would be willing to provide only a single transcribed interview to Congress, which would not be available to the Judiciary Committee members or staff,” Grassley and Feinstein added. “While the Judiciary Committee was willing to cooperate on equal terms with any other committee to accommodate Mr. Manafort’s request, ultimately that was not possible. Therefore, yesterday evening, a subpoena was issued to compel Mr. Manafort’s participation in Wednesday’s hearing.”

“As with other witnesses, we may be willing to excuse him from Wednesday’s hearing if he would be willing to agree to production of documents and a transcribed interview, with the understanding that the interview would not constitute a waiver of his rights or prejudice the committee’s right to compel his testimony in the future.”

The committee said last week that both Trump Jr. and Manafort, through their attorneys, “agreed to negotiate to provide the committee with documents and be interviewed by committee members and staff prior to a public hearing.”

The Judiciary panel has not yet said what it will do with Trump Jr.