[ Editor’s Note : This article was originally published Aug. 20, and is being updated with new information.]
The chairman of the House Select Committee on Investigation has subpoenaed an assortment of witnesses, most of whom have to testify before the subcommittee on financial crimes and terrorism during its upcoming hearing this week. But just who is testifying and what are they getting paid to say?
President Donald Trump’s economic adviser, Peter Navarro, is headed for Capitol Hill on Tuesday. He’s only agreed to answer written questions. He apparently hasn’t given an interview yet.
Robert Reich, a professor at the University of California, Berkeley, and former U.S. labor secretary under President Bill Clinton, will be appearing before the panel Sept. 29. He said he was “honored” to be the first witness called by the committee chairman, Republican Rep. Mark Meadows of North Carolina. “After Donald Trump’s gut-wrenching attacks on immigrants, I’m glad my testimony will be about supporting those who need protection and opportunity,” Reich said in a statement.
Here’s how the briefing is shaping up.
The meeting will reportedly include other witnesses, including “several individuals currently under investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.” But as special counsel prosecutors rarely comment on ongoing investigations, most details are unknown at this point.
Although the hearing has reportedly been called to discuss “economic sanctions” and “tax evasion,” one person expects the investigation will land on Russia’s interference in the 2016 election. Schiff said he had “every reason to believe that people under investigation for intervening in the 2016 presidential election” have been subpoenaed to appear before his committee.
The subpoena only targets three people, so it’s not clear which witnesses will appear in person.
The subpoenas cover a wide area. They name several prominent people, including Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, U.S. Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell, Trump campaign aides Rick Gates and George Papadopoulos, and Nathan Robinson, the former head of the European Centre for a Modern Ukraine.
Robinson is not an insider, but the imposition of the subpoena may put pressure on Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Defense Secretary James Mattis to attend. If subpoenaed, they could be forced to answer questions about Ukraine.
Several who have been subpoenaed, like Reed Cordish, have not responded to inquiries by The New York Times.
Four All But Vacant
The subpoenas also go beyond Manafort, Gates, Papadopoulos and Papadopoulos’ relative misadventures to cover another fairly thin field of names: several current and former Trump officials who are either part of Mueller’s investigation or have already been interviewed by Congress about the Russia probe.
The individuals identified by the subpoena include Erik Prince, the founder of Blackwater who is mentioned as someone known for his business ties to Russia; Andrew Traver, the former Southern District of New York prosecutor serving as a personal counsel to Cohen; Michael Flynn, Trump’s former national security adviser; Carl Higbie, who served as a White House international liaison; Sean Spicer, who left the White House press secretary’s job in July; Tom Barrack, who advises the Trump Organization; and Todd Ricketts, one of the billionaires who funded Trump’s presidential campaign.
The requested testimony has not been completely foreclosed. On Aug. 17, Schiff said that he will try to arrange a meeting with Henry Kissinger, a Trump appointee whom he says is not under investigation.
That he hasn’t been granted a meeting with Kissinger is ironic.
On July 19, Schiff, a California Democrat, was asked by the House Foreign Affairs Committee to issue a subpoena for Trump to appear for questioning. Schiff promised a response, but failed to make that follow-up deadline.
In addition to Schiff and Meadows, four other members of the committee have also declined to attend the hearing. Democratic members of the Republican-led subcommittee include Messrs. Salvatore DiMasi of Rhode Island, Rodney Frelinghuysen of New Jersey, Jim Banks of Indiana and Adrian Smith of Nebraska. Mr. Banks is the only one not up for re-election.