The House Intelligence Committee has requested an appearance by former communications director to President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign Michael Caputo in connection with the expanding probe into Trump and his associates’ connections to the Kremlin and Russian meddling in the 2016 election.
The New York Times reported Saturday night that the committee has asked Caputo to submit to a voluntary interview and to provide any documents in his possession that are relevant to the inquiry.
“The House Intelligence Committee, which is examining possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian officials, made its request in a letter on May 9. Mr. Caputo, who lives near Buffalo and spent six months on the Trump team, worked in Russia during the 1990s and came to know Kremlin officials. He also did work in the early 2000s for Gazprom Media, a Russian conglomerate that supported President Vladimir V. Putin,” wrote the Times’ Maggie Haberman.
Caputo is a protege of Republican “dirty tricks” operative and longtime Trump confidant Roger Stone, who has been a constant presence on the periphery of the Russia probe. He is a former Gazprom executive, the state-owned Russian energy conglomerate.
Haberman reported that the committee requested “any documents, records, electronically stored information including email, communication, recordings, data and tangible things” that could “reasonably lead to the discovery of any facts within the investigation’s publicly announced parameters.”
A list of topics the committee provided for the discussion includes: “Russian cyber activities directed against the 2016 U.S. election, potential links between Russia and individuals associated with political campaigns, the U.S. government’s response to these Russian active measures, and related leaks of classified information.”
Caputo has long claimed that he is innocent of any collusion with Russian officials or political operatives. He maintains that the committee’s requests are a form of harassment.
He told the Times that he would abide by the committee’s request, but also sent a written statement professing that he had no dealings with hostile foreign powers or their agents during his time working on the Trump campaign from November 2015 to June of 2016.
“At no time during this period did I have any contact with Russian government officials or employees,” Caputo wrote, adding that neither did he discuss Russia with any of his campaign coworkers.
“The only time the president and I talked about Russia was in 2013, when he simply asked me in passing what it was like to live there in the context of a dinner conversation,” his statement said.
Caputo was axed from the Trump campaign after he mocked the firing of hotheaded former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski.
Many Trump staffers are feeling battered and exhausted by the relentless parade of scandals, gaffes, blunders and lies pouring forth from the White House every week. Outsiders have strongly suggested to aides and advisers that they obtain their own legal counsel to weather the ongoing legal inquiries into Trump and his administration.