As US President Donald Trump signed deals and swayed with dancers among the gilded opulence and the red carpet rolled out for him in Riyadh, an investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 US elections and the alleged collusion by his campaign continued, with a former aide called by a congressional committee to testify before it.
The House intelligence committee, which is conducting one of several investigations into Russian meddling, asked Michael Caputo, a one-time Trump campaign aide, on Saturday to submit himself to a voluntary interview and also turn over documents that could be relevant to the probe.
Caputo, who was with the campaign for a few months as a communications adviser, had worked in Russia in the 1990s and is said to know many officials in the Kremlin well. He also worked for Gazprom Media, a Russian company that is known to have supported Russian president.
The committee has said the voluntary interview could be about “Russian cyber activities directed against the 2016 US election, potential links between Russia and individuals associated with political campaigns, the US government’s response to these Russian active measures, and related leaks of classified information”.
In a written response to the committee, Caputo has said he plans to testify and that he never had any contacts with Russian government or employees during his time on the campaign: “The only time the president and I talked about Russia was in 2013, when he simply asked me in passing what it was like to live there in the context of a dinner conversation.”
The summons came on top of heightened activity in recent days regarding the Russia probe, including the appointment of former FBI director Robert Muller as special counsel to head the investigation, separately from those being run by intelligence committees of the House of Representatives and the Senate.
James Comey, the sacked FBI director, is expected to testify at on open hearing of the Senate committee the week after, around the time President Trump returns from his nine-day foreign tour, at which he is likely to speak about attempts by the president to influence FBI’s investigation of Russian meddling.
According to notes Comey kept of his conversations with the president that have been leaked since his sacking, the president told him once,“I hope you can let this go … I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go … He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go.”