U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich says a former Donald Trump campaign chairman should testify in front of the Senate Intelligence Committee after reports of the former campaign official’s ties to Russia.
Heinrich, a member of the committee, said that Paul Manafort must testify “and give the American people the answers they deserve.”
Heinrich cited an Associated Press report that Manafort “secretly worked for a Russian billionaire to advance the interests of Russian President Vladimir Putin a decade ago and proposed an ambitious political strategy to undermine anti-Russian opposition across former Soviet republics.”
Manafort worked for Oleg Deripaska, who is a close ally of Putin, for a reported $10 million a year contract.
Heinrich said the work described by the AP was similar to recent Russian hacking actions during the elections in the United States.
“I am alarmed by reports that former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort created and then sold the Russians what appears to be a game plan to undermine democracy and further the interests of the Russian government – including inside the United States,” Heinrich said. “His reported recommendation to use political campaign tactics, establish front groups, and manipulate the press are strikingly similar to the actual tactics we know the Russians employed to undermine our presidential election.”
The Trump administration has attempted to downplay Manafort’s role, with White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer saying Manafort’s role in the campaign was “for a very limited amount of time.”
As CNN reported, Manafort was Trump’s campaign chairman and chief strategist for the summer of 2016 before the role went to Breitbart News’ Steve Bannon and political strategist Kellyanne Conway. Bannon and Conway are both part of Trump’s administration, while Manafort left the campaign in August of 2016.