The Latest: Congressman calls Trump Jr. explanation worrying

  • In World
  • 2017-07-15 02:50:46Z
  • By Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Latest on President Donald Trump and the investigation into his campaign's potential ties to Russia (all times local):

7:15 p.m.

The top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee says he'd like Russian-American lobbyist and former Soviet military officer Rinat Akhmetshin to testify before his panel.

California congressman Adam Schiff made the comments after The Associated Press reported that Akhmetshin attended a meeting with President Donald Trump's son, son-in-law and campaign chairman last year.

Emails that Trump Jr. released earlier this week indicate that a Russian lawyer also attended the meeting and was there to pass along damaging information about Hillary Clinton.

The Intelligence panel is investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 campaign and possible links to Trump's campaign.

Schiff says shifting explanations by Trump Jr. about the meeting are "a deeply worrying trend."


7:12 p.m.

A lawyer for former Trump campaign adviser Michael Caputo says he is in talks with the Senate Intelligence Committee to possibly testify or turn over documents as part of its investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

Caputo testified before the House Intelligence Committee on Friday. He told lawmakers that he heard no talk of Russia during his time on the campaign.

Lawyer Dennis Vacco says he's negotiating with the Senate panel over a "broad and expansive" email request.

Caputo says he hasn't received requests from the Justice Department's special counsel, who is also investigating the meddling. But he says he'll answer if they call and adds: "I'll do whatever it takes to clear up this Russian collusion delusion. I'm happy to participate in any investigation."


6:30 p.m.

A former Trump campaign official says he has told the House Intelligence Committee that he "never heard the word Russia" during his time on President Donald Trump's campaign.

The closed session is part of the panel's investigation into Russian interference in the election and possible connections to Trump's campaign.

Michael Caputo says he testified voluntarily in an effort to clear his name. He says he and his wife have received death threats since he's been connected with the investigation.

Caputo served as a Trump adviser and oversaw the New York state campaign. He lived years ago in Russia, and worked for the Russian-owned Gazprom Media after returning to the United States.

Caputo says he was never asked about his time in the country while on the campaign.


5:24 p.m.

One of Jared Kushner's lawyers says she's stepping aside from Russia-related investigations and turning over that portfolio to criminal defense attorney Abbe Lowell.

Jamie Gorelick said Friday that she remains part of the legal team of President Donald Trump's son-in-law, and will continue to help Lowell. She says while she'll be helping Kushner on questions of ethics compliance and the security clearance process, Lowell will be handling Russia investigations.

Congressional committees and Special Counsel Robert Mueller are investigating potential coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia.

Mueller previously work at the same law firm as Gorelick and took three partners with him to join his team.

Once that happened, Gorelick says she advised Kushner to get independent legal advice on whether he wanted to stay with her and her team.


12:05 p.m.

The top Democrat on the House Intelligence committee says reports that a second Russian person was in a meeting with Donald Trump Jr. last summer "adds another deeply disturbing fact about this secret meeting."

Rep. Adam Schiff of California says Trump Jr.'s shifting explanations "paint a portrait of consistent dissembling and deceit."

A Russian-American lobbyist says he attended the June 2016 meeting with President Donald Trump's son. The detail marks another shift in the account of the meeting, which was described as part of a Russian government effort to help the Republican's White House campaign. Rinat Akhmetshin confirmed his participation to The Associated Press on Friday.

Akhmetshin has been reported to have ties to Russian intelligence agencies, though he denies ever working as an intelligence agent.


9:50 a.m.

House Democrats are renewing calls for a vote on an independent commission to investigate Russia's election meddling and ties to the Trump administration.

Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California also says that presidential adviser Jared Kushner's security clearance should be revoked.

Pelosi and other top House Democrats spoke at a news conference Friday insisting they would try to force votes on the issue on the House floor - although their ability to do so is limited.

Pelosi said that "House Democrats are not going to let the Republicans off the hook for their complicity, ... They have become enablers of the violations of our Constitution, the attack on the integrity of our elections."

She added that "House Republicans will have to answer for their actions."


9:40 a.m.

A Russian-American lobbyist says he attended a June 2016 meeting with President Donald Trump's son that was billed as part of a Russian government effort to help the Republican campaign.

Rinat Akhmetshin confirmed his participation to The Associated Press Friday. His disclosure marks another shift in the account of the meeting.

Donald Trump Jr. did not disclose Akhmetshin's presence in statements and emails he released on the meeting earlier this week.

Emails posted by Trump Jr. show that he was told by an associate that the meeting was part of a Russian government effort to help Donald Trump in the election. The associate who helped arrange the meeting told Trump Jr. that the lawyer had damaging information about Democrat Hillary Clinton.

Jared Kushner, Trump's son-in-law and current White House senior adviser, and then-campaign chairman Paul Manafort also attended the meeting.


9 a.m.

President Donald Trump's campaign data and digital director says he will speak with the House intelligence committee later this month as part of its Russia probe.

Brad Parscale says in a statement to The Associated Press he's "unaware of any Russian involvement" in the data and digital operations of Trump's campaign. He says he will appear voluntarily before the panel.

Rep. Adam Schiff is the top Democrat on the House intelligence committee. Schiff says lawmakers are reviewing whether the campaign worked with Russians in any way, including distributing "fake news."

Parscale says the campaign "used the exact same digital marketing strategies that are used every day by corporate America."

Trump's campaign paid Parscale's firm more than $90 million to advertise on social media, analyze data and perform other functions.


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