A trio of questionable characters connecting Donald Trump to Russia are hot to testify before the House Intelligence Committee. The group consists of an irregular man whose hair competes with 45’s, a murky Russian lobbyist, and a dubious advisor. What is their motivation?
This week was a cascade of bad Trump news. A significant chunk of that news began with the Republican chair of the House Intelligence Committee Representative Devin Nunes of California uncovering confidential information.
He could not wait to give a news conference about it, then he hot-tailed it over to the White House. Fearing one news conference was not enough, Nunes held second news conference on the White House lawn.
Of course, Nunes did not divulge the source. Nor did he clearly explain what was in the information. Apparently, U.S. intelligence agencies picked up members of Trump’s transition team during their surveillance of foreign nationals.
Nunes notified the press and the president before informing Democratic Minority Leader of the Intelligence Committee, Representative Adam Schiff, also of California. This was a highly unusual act. Protocol calls for the two to work in tandem. The minority leader still has not seen Nunes’ secure folder. None of the Republican members of the committee know, nor do any of the Democrats.
Maybe, Nunes was trying to torpedo the committee’s oversight of an FBI investigation into the Trump-Russia connection. Nunes cancelled the public March 28th meeting where former Acting Attorney General Sally Yates, whom Trump fired, was scheduled to testify. The committee had also scheduled President Barack Obama’s director of National Intelligence Director James Clapper and former CIA Director John Brennan to testify.
Schiff was not happy. In his own news conference, he said that he “strongly objected” to Nunes actions, calling it a “dodge” to benefit Trump. The LA Times reported that the minority leader said:
‘That effort to defend the indefensible has led us down this terrible rabbit hole and threatens the only investigation that is authorized in the House.’
Manhattan energy consultant with business ties to Russia and Trump’s campaign foreign policy adviser Carter Page volunteered to testify, too. Former MI6 [England’s NSA equivalent] agent Christopher Steele listed the advisor in the spy’s infamous dossier. The LA Times reported that Page wrote in a letter:
‘I would eagerly welcome the chance to speak with the Committee to help finally set the record straight following the false evidence, illegal activities as well as other lies distributed by certain politically-motivated [sic] suspects in coordination with the Obama Administration, which defamed me and other Americans.’
Long-time friend and political advisor to Trump, Roger Stone volunteered to testify, too. He was most recently seen leaving the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, where Wikileak’s Julian Assange is holed up in exile to avoid extradition to Sweden for rape charges. The FBI has claimed that Stone may have links to the Russians who orchestrated hacking the Democratic National Committee [DNC]. According to the LA Times, Stone said:
‘I have been anxious to testify for some time. My name was dragged through the mud in a public session, and I should be permitted to rebut that in a public session. They don’t even have to subpoena me. I have volunteered to testify, and I would prefer that testimony to be in public.’
The campaign manager credited with putting Trump in office and who has deep Russian ties, Paul Manafort, will also testify.