by Countable | 7.25.17
Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) have subpoenaed former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort in order to compel him to testify publicly on Wednesday.
The subpoena seeks to compel Manafort to appear in front of the Judiciary Committee for a public hearing Wednesday regarding enforcement of the Foreign Agents Registration Act and attempts to influence U.S. elections. Manafort’s participation in a previously undisclosed meeting with Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, and a Russian lawyer has increased the focus on Manafort’s actions as then-candidate Trump’s campaign chair.
Originally, media reported that Manafort was going to testify, but the statement issued late Monday by Grassley and Feinstein suggests the details of the testimony were still being negotiated:
"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. 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."
They’re still offering Manafort an out from public testimony, however:
"As with other witnesses, we may be willing to excuse him from Wednesday’s hearing if he would be willing to agree to the 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."
Since the subpoena is for Manafort to testify on Wednesday there’s a very tight time frame for Manafort to respond. If he refuses to respond to the subpoena they can hold him in contempt of Congress. There are a variety of steps the committee can then take to further compel him, including pursuing civil charges, having federal prosecutors impanel a grand jury, and sending Capitol police to escort him to the hearing.
Only the last option could force Manafort’s presence at Wednesday’s hearing, but it hasn’t been used since 1935.
What can you do?
Do you think the Senate Judiciary Committee should insist on transcribed, public testimony from Manafort? If so, should they use further steps at their disposal to force him to testify?
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— Asha Sanaker
(Photo Credit: Disney/ABC News via Flickr / Creative Commons)
Written by Countable