Manafort volunteers for interviews with Intelligence committees

President Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, has volunteered to interview with the House Intelligence Committee’s probe of Russian interference in last year’s election, committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) announced Friday.

Manafort has also offered to be interviewed by the Senate Intelligence Committee, according to a Senate source.

Both Intelligence committees are investigating Russian interference in the US election.

"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," a spokesman for Manafort said in an email. "As Mr. Manafort has always maintained, he looks forward to meeting with those conducting serious investigations of these issues to discuss the facts."

The White House this week rushed to distance itself from Manafort after the revelation that he signed a multimillion-dollar contract with a Russian oligarch in 2006 to help advance Russian President Vladimir Putin’s interests around the world.

The story fueled the growing controversy over the Trump team’s ties to Russia, which was rekindled Monday when FBI Director James Comey publicly confirmed the bureau is investigating whether Trump associates coordinated with Moscow during the 2016 presidential race.

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Nunes also said Friday he has asked Comey and National Security Agency (NSA) Director Michael Rogers to brief the House Intelligence Committee in a closed session.

Nunes cautioned that he does not expect to receive documentation from the NSA regarding his claims that Trump campaign associates were possibly monitored by the intelligence community on Friday. 

Nunes said he expects to have more information from the NSA by "early next week."

But he categorically denied that his decision to make public the information on the issue that he does have was coordinated by the White House. 

Nunes maintained that the surveillance appeared to be legal but that until he gets the documents he has requested, he can't say for sure. 

He provided no more clarity about who, exactly, was swept up in the alleged surveillance. Nunes has given conflicting answers about whether the president's associates — or the president himself — were involved in the intelligence reports he saw. 

"I'm not going to get into the specifics of what I saw other than there was Mr. Trump and the transition team," Nunes said. 

Nunez said two issues with what he saw in those reports concerned him. First, he thought there was information in the reports that should not have been there. Second, he was concerned by the fact that the names of U.S. persons had been "unmasked," or identified in the reports. 

Nunes said Friday he remains the only lawmaker who has seen the reports. 

Nunes said the committee was recalling Comey and Rogers because there were questions they could not answer publicly in an appearance before the committee Monday, during which Comey revealed the existence of the FBI's investigation into the Trump campaign's possible ties to Russia. 

Nunes and committee ranking member Adam SchiffAdam SchiffFlurry of leaks alarms US allies House lawmakers pitch ban on North Korean tourism Overnight Cybersecurity: Bad Russian intel may have swayed Comey's handling of Clinton probe | Apple sees spike in data requests | More subpoenas for Flynn | DOJ's plan for data warrants MORE (D-Calif.) reached an agreement for Comey to brief the entire committee — not just the two leaders — on details of that probe, Nunes said. 

 

— Megan R. Wilson contributed

Updated at 12:49 p.m.