Senate Judiciary Committee drops subpoena for Paul Manafort to testify in open session

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Paul Manafort with Trump senior adviser Stephen Miller
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Drew Angerer/Getty Images

The Senate Judiciary Committee issued a subpoena to President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, on Tuesday to compel him to testify before the committee in an open session Wednesday.

“While we were willing to accomodate 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,” committee chairman Chuck Grassley and ranking Democrat Dianne Feinstein said in a statement.

They added that they “may be willing to excuse [Manafort] from Wednesday’s hearing if he would be willing to agree to production of documents and a transcribed interview.”

By Wednesday afternoon, the subpoena had been withdrawn, according to multiple media outlets. Politico reported that it was dropped after Manafort, who met with the Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday morning, agreed to meet with Judiciary committee investigators.

Feinstein had been optimistic they the committee would be able to drop the subpoena: “The lawyers are going to work something out, I hope,” she said earlier in the day. “This changes three times a day.”

The committees are examining Manafort’s financial history and past work for a pro-Russian political party in Ukraine as part of their investigations into Russia’s election interference.

The topic for Wednesday’s hearing is the Foreign Agents Registration Act – a law passed in 1938 requiring that US citizens representing the interests of foreign powers in a “political or quasi-political capacity” disclose that relationship.

On March 22, The Associated Press reported that Manafort was paid $10 million between 2006 and 2009 to lobby on behalf of Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska, a close Putin ally. The New York Times reported recently that Manafort was indebted to pro-Russian interests as late as last year. Investigators are also probing whether Manafort engaged in money laundering, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The committee also subpoenaed Glenn Simpson, the cofounder of opposition research firm Fusion GPS, to compel him to testify publicly on Wednesday. Simpson’s lawyer said compelling his client to appear at the FARA hearing was “a pretext for an exploration of Fusion GPS’ reported work, on behalf of other clients, to investigate the ties of Donald J. Trump, his campaign and their associates to Russia.”

Simpson hired former British spy Christopher Steele last year to research Trump’s ties to Russia at the request of anti-Trump Republicans. Democrats took over funding for Steele’s project after Trump won the Republican nomination.