President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, has offered to testify before the House Intelligence Committee in its investigation of Russian meddling in the US election, committee chairman Devin Nunes announced Friday.
Nunes said House investigators are still negotiating when Manafort will testify and whether he will testify in an open hearing or in a closed briefing.
“Yesterday, the counsel for Paul Manafort contacted the committee yesterday to offer the committee the opportunity to interview his client,” Nunes said at news conference. “We thank Mr. Manafort for volunteering and encourage others with knowledge of these issues to voluntarily interview with the committee.”
Nunes also announced that the committee is bringing in FBI Director James Comey and National Security Agency Director Mike Rogers for a second briefing, this time behind closed doors so that they can provide more information. The committee is also delaying its March 28 hearing.
Nunes apologized to his committee members Thursday, a day after he told the public and the President that communications of him and associates may have been collected by intelligence agencies before telling Democratic members of the committee.
Earlier Friday, Intelligence Committee member Rep. Jim Himes, D-Connecticut, accused Nunes of persistently serving “the interests of Donald Trump,” but stopped short of calling him to step down from the probe into ties between the Trump White House and Russia.
“Devin, as much as I appreciate him and consider him a friend, has demonstrated on multiple occasions that he often serves the interests of Donald Trump,” Himes told CNN’s Alisyn Camerota on “New Day.” “Once again, we were shown why this should be done by an outside commission.”
Himes suggested Nunes’ apology went a long way to soothe Democrats on the committee. As for whether Nunes should recuse himself from the probe, the Connecticut Democrat said that was a decision for House Speaker Paul Ryan.
“(I) will tell you from the inside that while the chairman’s behavior on the outside — going to the media and the President — has been troublesome … inside, he has said yes to our requests.”
“Inside, he has been working constructively with us,” he added. “If he is removed, who do we get now? Somebody less constructive inside than Congressman Nunes?”