Kushner to testify Monday before Senate intelligence panel as part of Russia probe

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FILE PHOTO — Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared Kushner watch as German Chancellor Angela Merkel and U.S. President Donald Trump hold a joint news conference in the East Room of the White House in Washington, U.S., March 17, 2017. REUTERS/Jim Bourg/File Photo

WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner will speak to the Senate Intelligence Committee in a closed-door session Monday as part of the panel’s widening probe into alleged ties between the Trump campaign and the Russian government.

The meeting was confirmed by Kushner’s attorney, Abbe Lowell, who said that his client “is prepared to voluntarily cooperate and provide whatever information he has on the investigations to Congress” and “appreciates the opportunity to assist in putting this matter to rest.”

Kushner is expected to answer the committee’s questions and not invoke his Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination, according to a person familiar with Kushner’s thinking.

The interview comes as the Senate Judiciary Committee also announced its intention to have former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort and Trump’s son Donald Trump Jr. testify in open session June 26. Committee Chairman Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, and ranking Democrat Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., said that they expect Manafort and Trump Jr. “will comply voluntarily with invitations to testify,” adding that they “have agreed to issue subpoenas, if necessary” for the two men.

Trump Jr.’s attorney, Alan Futerfas, did not respond Wednesday evening to requests for comment about the Judiciary Committee hearing.

A lawyer for Manafort said that he and his legal team are reviewing the request and have not made a decision on which committee Manafort will speak with first.

The Judiciary Committee also asked Manafort and Trump Jr., as well as the Trump Organization and the Trump campaign, “to preserve all relevant documents related to Russian interference in the 2016 election” and to furnish the committee by Aug. 2 with documents related to a June 2016 meeting with Russians purported to have ties to the Kremlin.

Kushner, Manafort and Trump Jr. are expected to be asked about a number of reported contacts they and other Trump surrogates had with Russian officials during the campaign and transition period. In particular, they are expected to be grilled about their participation in the June 2016 meeting in Trump Tower with a Russian lawyer, Natalya Veselnitskaya, who Trump Jr. was told had Kremlin connections and could provide damaging information on presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. There were also four other individuals in attendance: Russian-American lobbyist Rinat Akhmetshin, who once worked in a Soviet military intelligence unit; Russian real estate company executive Ike Kaveladze, who was once the subject of a congressional inquiry into Russian money laundering; music producer Rob Goldstone, who helped set up the meeting; and a translator for Veselnitskaya.

“It’s safe to say that the committee’s going to reach out to everybody we feel has some contribution to make,” Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr, R-N.C., said Wednesday. “The Don Jr. meeting as of today has potentially eight individuals. All eight of those individuals will be important to us once we know the types of questions that we need answers to.”

Burr would not say when the committee planned to schedule others to testify, or whether any of those hearings would be public. Those decisions may depend in part on signals from special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, who is conducting his own probe into purported ties between the Trump team and the Kremlin.

Mueller gave the Senate Judiciary Committee permission to interview Manafort and Trump Jr. publicly, Feinstein said Tuesday. But the two will not testify before the committee alone, if they agree to appear.

The Judiciary Committee has scheduled Manafort and Trump Jr. to appear alongside William Browder of Heritage Capital Management and Glenn Simpson of Fusion GPS, the research firm behind a dossier that outlined various salacious but unverified details of Trump’s dealings in Moscow.

Grassley has long pursued Fusion for its role in the dossier’s production, demanding earlier this year to know why the Justice Department never required the firm to register as a foreign agent for work he charges was being done to further “Russian interests” at the time the dossier was being complied. Grassley based his demands in part on a complaint Browder filed with the government last July.

Browder, who once did business in Russia, is best known in Congress for his efforts to get lawmakers to pass the Magnitsky Act – a 2012 law that applied human rights sanctions on Russia, named after one of his employees who died in a Russian prison after accusing officials of tax fraud. Russia responded to the passage of the Magnistky Act by banning Americans from adopting Russian children.

Veselnitskaya, a lawyer with the company Prevezon, has lobbied against the Magnitsky Act and its successor, the Global Magnitsky Act, which Congress passed in 2016. Fusion GPS once did research for the law firm representing Prevezon in a civil case.

Simpson declined to testify at a Judiciary Committee hearing that was scheduled for Wednesday of this week, but then rescheduled to June 26. That hearing will now also be the venue at which Manafort and Trump Jr. are expected to testify. Officially, the topic of the hearing is the Obama administration’s enforcement of the Foreign Agents Registration Act.

The committee also requested Simpson to preserve records, and threatened to subpoena him if he did not appear to speak.

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