Manafort Will Speak to Intelligence Committee, But Committee Chair Cancels Open Hearing with Others

During a press conference earlier today, Republican Chair of the House Intelligence Committee Devin Nunes announced that former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort, whose ties to Russia have raised serious questions about the Trump campaign's possible collusion with Russia during the campaign, would come in for an interview with the committee.

The counsel for Paul Manafort contacted the committee yesterday to offer the committee the opportunity to interview his client. We thank Mr. Manafort for volunteering and encourage others with knowledge of these issues to voluntarily interview with the committee.
Note that Nunes did not specify whether Manafort would testify under oath; he merely said that he would come in for an "interview." He also did not specify whether said interview would be public, or would happen in a closed-door session.

Even if it's just an interview, it's not necessarily an entirely worthless, GOP ass-covering endeavor. It could provide the Democrats on the committee an opportunity to ask some questions, the answers to which, if they are unsatisfactory, could provide an argument for a subpoena.

That said, the Republican majority on the committee could refuse to issue a subpoena.

Which is why, again, we need an independent commission to investigate.

Another reason: Nunes also canceled the open hearing that had been scheduled with former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, former Director of the CIA John Brennan, and former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates.

Rep. Adam Schiff, Democratic Ranking Member of the House Intelligence Committee, gave a press conference following Nunes' presser, condemning Nunes' decision and asking the majority members to reconsider.

He argued, quite rightly, that in order to do a credible investigation, as much as possible needs to be public. But, to the contrary, the committee chair, Nunes, is trying to "choke off public information."

Today the chairman has announced that meeting is canceled. He has also announced that he wants to bring back Directors Comey and Rogers for a closed session. We welcome at any time bringing the former directors back in closed session. We don't welcome cutting off the public access to information when we have witnesses, as these three very important witnesses, who are willing and scheduled to testify in open session.

We also have made the offer, rejected by the majority, that we could have these three witnesses testify in open session and if there were questions the members wanted to ask in closed session, that we could then go to a closed portion of the hearing. In fact, this is just what we do in the worldwide threats hearings often, where we have open testimony followed by testimony in closed session.
Democrats proposed an accommodation, which is accepted in other hearings, and the Republican majority simply rejected it out of hand. Because their concern isn't protecting sensitive info; it's protecting the president.

This is where we stand: There are serious allegations that the sitting President of the United States colluded with a hostile foreign power to win the election. He is now under investigation by federal intelligence agencies. The House committee tasked with investigating is controlled by a Republican majority, and the Republican chair, who was a member of the president's transition team, is colluding with the president outside the committee, while simultaneously hamstringing Democrats who want to meaningfully investigate.

This is not the description of a healthy democracy.

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