Senate Asks Trump Associates for Records of Communication With Russians

WASHINGTON — The Senate Intelligence Committee has asked a number of high-profile Trump campaign associates to hand over emails and other records of dealings with Russians as part of its investigation into Russian meddling in the presidential election and is prepared to subpoena those who refuse to cooperate, officials said.

The requests for the materials were made in letters sent by the committee in the past 10 days, said two officials with knowledge of the contents of the letters. The move is designed to accelerate the committee’s investigation, and represents a new bipartisan challenge to the Trump administration, which has sought to use Republican allies in Congress to blunt the inquiries.

Among those who said they had received the requests were Roger J. Stone Jr., an informal adviser to President Trump, and Carter Page, a businessman and former foreign policy adviser to the Trump campaign. Paul Manafort, the former campaign chairman, and Michael T. Flynn, the former national security adviser, were also sent letters, the officials with knowledge of the investigation said. Representatives for those two men declined to comment.

Any decision to issue subpoenas would require a majority vote by members of the intelligence committee.

Mr. Stone said he planned to comply with the request, noting that he has said in the past that he will testify voluntarily. “I am eager, indeed anxious, to testify in full public session, have requested no immunity and am ready to go,” he said in a brief interview.

Mr. Stone says that he has had no communications with Russian officials other than previously disclosed communications with Guccifer 2.0, the online persona that officials believe was a front for Russian intelligence. Mr. Stone has acknowledged trading messages with Guccifer on Twitter, though he has repeatedly dismissed allegations from the intelligence community that Guccifer was a Russian front.

“I recognize that the reputation I have cultivated as an extreme partisan and a rogue make me a convenient fall guy for the Democrats, but I refuse to play the patsy role they have in mind for me,” said Mr. Stone, a self-professed dirty trickster.

“I had no contact with the Russians or their cutout at any time and the idea that my tweets prove otherwise is ludicrous,” he added.

Mr. Page was more circumspect about whether he would cooperate. In an email, he said, “Although I will help in any way that I can, please note that any records I may have saved as a private citizen with limited technology capabilities will be minuscule in comparison to the full database of information which has already been collected under last year’s completely unjustified FISA warrant.”

Roger J. Stone said that he had received a request from the Senate Intelligence Committee for records and that he planned to comply.

He was referring to a warrant issued by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court that allowed the Justice Department to secretly wiretap his communications. The warrant was issued after investigators concluded that Mr. Page was no longer part of the Trump campaign, and it was based on evidence that he might have been operating as a Russian agent, officials have said.

“As a lone individual, I can assure you that my personal administrative capabilities pale in comparison to those of the numerous staff in the executive, legislative and judicial branches of the U.S. government,” Mr. Page added.

Mr. Page, Mr. Stone and Mr. Manafort are all under scrutiny in an F.B.I. investigation into Russian election meddling and allegations of collusion by Trump associates. There are two other separate congressional investigations — one by the Senate panel and the other by the House intelligence committee.

President Trump has dismissed talk of Russian election interference as “fake news” meant to undermine his presidency.

The letters from the Senate committee were jointly signed by Senator Richard M. Burr, the North Carolina Republican, and Senator Mark Warner, the Virginia Democrat, who are the committee’s two senior members. The letters instruct recipients to list all the meetings they had with Russian officials or Russian businesspeople from June 16, 2015, through Jan. 20, 2017. It set a May 9 deadline for a response.

The committee also requested that, by May 19, the recipients hand over records of all communications — including emails, text messages and phone logs — with Russian officials or businesspeople from the same period. It also asks them for information on any of their financial or real estate holdings related to Russia and to list any meetings they know of between other Trump campaign associates and Russians.

Both Mr. Burr and Mr. Warner declined to comment on the requests, which officials said went to a number of other people associated with the Trump campaign and presidential transition.

In February, the White House sought to enlist Mr. Burr to refute news stories about ties between Trump associates and Russia. The senator characterized his conversations with reporters as an appropriate part of his job as the chairman of the intelligence committee.

Yet in public comments since then, he has committed to following the intelligence wherever it leads, including examining any links between Trump associates and Russia. Officials say that, in private, Mr. Burr has expressed no qualms about pressing forward with the investigation and has told Mr. Warner that he is ready to issue subpoenas if necessary.

In recent weeks there have been reports that Mr. Warner and other Democrats on the committee were frustrated with the pace of the investigation, and were pressing Mr. Burr to send letters requesting emails, memos, phone records and other materials from the Trump campaign and transition.

Late last month, the Democrats on the committee hired April F. Doss, a former associate general counsel at the National Security Agency, to serve as a special counsel on the Russia investigation.

Source: New York Times