Donald Jr., Manafort Won’t Testify in Public — or Under Oath

Donald Trump Jr. has needed several tries to tell the whole truth about last year’s now-infamous Russia meeting. Photo: Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images

After the New York Times uncovered the extremely shady meeting Donald Trump Jr. held at Trump Tower last June, the eldest Trump son appeared on Sean Hannity’s show and offered to testify under oath on the matter. Then, last week, the Senate Judiciary Committee announced that he and Paul Manafort, who also attended the Trump Tower sit-down, would appear at a public hearing on Wednesday, raising expectations of a Comey hearing–like spectacle.

But on Friday, the leaders of that committee, Senators Chuck Grassley and Dianne Feinstein, announced they wouldn’t be issuing subpoenas and that the testimony given by Trump Jr. and Manafort would be private.

On Sunday, Grassley appeared to confirm that the two would not even be under oath when they answer questions.

Al Franken complained to Jake Tapper on CNN’s State of the Union Sunday that Trump Jr. and Manafort’s private testimony was “not good enough,” and that they should testify under oath.

But CNN reported that the idea of a public hearing at this juncture wasn’t likely in the first place:

A source familiar with the committee’s thinking says there was incentive among the committee to make the agreement with Manafort and Trump Jr. because there was a recognition that they were unlikely to appear in a public session.

But the threat of trying to force them to appear publicly and to issue a subpoena was enough to get agreement from the two to provide records and to interview them quicker than they otherwise would have liked, a source familiar with the discussion says.

It’s not clear when Trump Jr. and Manafort will speak to the committee. In the meantime, Glenn Simpson, who co-founded the investigative firm that commissioned the infamous Steele dossier, was subpoenaed by the committee after refusing to testify in private. And, perhaps more intriguing, Jared Kushner will talk to the Senate Intelligence Committee in a closed-door session on Monday.

Don Jr., Manafort Won’t Testify in Public — or Under Oath