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Trump's Former Campaign Manager Agrees To Testify In Russia Probe


Paul Manafort resigned as Donald Trump's campaign manager in August 2016.

President Donald Trump's former campaign manager has volunteered to speak to a U.S. congressional committee that is investigating Russia's alleged meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

Republican Representative Devin Nunes, who chairs the House Intelligence Committee, said on March 24 that Paul Manafort's lawyer contacted his committee the previous day and offered to make his client available to lawmakers.

The committee is investigating alleged ties between Trump associates and Russia, as well as what U.S. intelligence officials have described as Kremlin-directed interference in the U.S. election.

Nunes thanked Manafort "for volunteering," saying congressional investigators "encourage others with knowledge of these issues to voluntarily interview with the committee."

Nunes said his panel would coordinate with Manafort's lawyers on whether his testimony would be public.

Manafort's spokesman, Jason Maloni, confirmed that Manafort would testify in the congressional investigation.

"Mr. Manafort instructed his representatives to reach out to committee staff and offer to provide information voluntarily regarding recent allegations about Russian interference in the election," Maloni told The New York Times.

"As Mr. Manafort has always maintained, he looks forward to meeting with those conducting serious investigations of these issues to discuss the facts," Maloni said.

News of Manafort's proposed testimony came days after the Associated Press reported that Manafort previously worked for Kremlin-connected Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska and, as early as 2005, proposed a political strategy involving a public influence campaign to benefit Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Manafort resigned as Trump's campaign chief in August 2016 following reports of illicit payments related to his previous work for the political party of Ukraine's pro-Russian former president, Viktor Yanukovych.

FBI Director James Comey on March 20 confirmed publicly that his agency was conducting investigations into communications between Russian officials and Trump associates.

U.S. intelligence agencies released a report in January assessing that Russia conducted a hacking-and-influence campaign aimed at denigrating Trump's Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton. The Kremlin rejects the allegation.

After initially expressing skepticism about that assessment, Trump said he now thought Russia was behind the hacking campaign. But Trump continues to insist it had no impact on the outcome of the election.

The White House said earlier this week Trump did not know his former campaign chairman had worked for Deripaska and had proposed a political strategy to help Putin.

White House spokesman Sean Spicer on March 22 insisted the work Manafort did for Deripaska had taken place a decade ago and was irrelevant to Manafort's job with Trump's 2016 election campaign.

With reporting by Reuters, AP, The Boston Globe, Politico, and The New York Times
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