Nunes Says Manafort Can Testify Any Way He Wants

Remember back in December 1992 when Senators John Kerry and Hank Brown released their massive report on the The BCCI Affair? It was put together by the United States Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. The committee authorized four writs and seventeen subpoenas and took testimony from dozens of witnesses. You can trust me when I tell you that the senators on the committee did very little of the investigative work. It was mostly done by staff. Compare that to this:

Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) said that [Paul] Manafort’s lawyer “contacted the committee yesterday to offer the committee the opportunity to interview his client.”

Nunes did not say whether the Manafort briefing would be public or take place behind closed doors, leaving the decision mostly up to Manafort himself.

“Our lawyers, Republicans and Democrats, will work with his lawyers to see what exactly he wants to do,” Nunes said.

“If he wants to come out in public and have a public hearing, he’s more than welcome to do that,” Nunes continued, adding that if Manafort preferred a closed setting, that is “also fine.”

The public hearing is actually less important than putting him under oath and deposing him at length. What you don’t do with a prime suspect who has clearly been a subject of an eight-month-long FBI-led counterintelligence investigation is let him call the shots on how he will be confronted. Having him testify could compromise a possible prosecution, so it must be handled very delicately. I suppose this is better than offering him immunity, but it’s the furthest thing from how the House Intelligence Committee should be treating this witness. Manafort should have no say in whether he has to testify in public and he should definitely be subpoenaed. There should be no time limitations, and the staff should treat him, as closely as possible, the same way that the FBI would if they were questioning him.

I don’t know how much longer Nunes will get away with this farce, but it’s getting more than just ridiculous. It’s beginning to look criminal. At a certain point, a deliberately sabotaged investigation is a form of obstruction of justice.

This has to be taken away from him and put in the hands of trained professionals.

Martin Longman

Martin Longman is the web editor for the Washington Monthly and the main blogger at Booman Tribune.