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Caputo to speak to Senate Intelligence panel staffers Tuesday

WASHINGTON – East Aurora political consultant Michael R. Caputo will be interviewed by staffers from the Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday in his second appearance before congressional panels probing Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

Caputo will appear before the committee staffers Tuesday morning, sources told The Buffalo News Saturday.

An aide to Donald Trump's presidential campaign in late 2015 and early 2016, Caputo also has a track record of working in Russia. That previously drew the interest of the House Intelligence Committee, which interviewed him last July.

"From the day President Trump announced his candidacy until Inauguration Day, to my knowledge I never spoke about his campaign with anyone remotely associated with the Russian government," Caputo said in prepared testimony before that committee. "At no time did I ever talk about Russian contacts with any member of the campaign. I certainly did not hear talk of collusion with Russia or any foreign nation."

The House Intelligence Committee released a 250-page report on its investigation on Friday. The report, which said investigators found no evidence of collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign, never mentions Caputo.

Caputo was expected to spend the weekend meeting with his lawyers and preparing for his Senate appearance, then travel to Washington on Monday.

A political consultant in Russia in the 1990s, Caputo later ran a public relations firm with an office in Moscow.

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That drew the interest of the ranking Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, who sent Caputo a letter earlier this year asking that he appear before the panel.

She noted that Caputo's Russia ties, as well as the fact that Paul J. Manafort, the former Trump campaign manager indicted last year by a grand jury in the Justice Department investigation headed by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, recommended Caputo to the Trump campaign.

The letter also mentioned Caputo's ties to Roger J. Stone Jr., a longtime unofficial adviser to Trump.

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"Based on these long-standing ties to key campaign figures and Russia, we believe that you may have information that would assist the committee in its investigation relative to the 2016 presidential election," Feinstein wrote.

Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee have also expressed an interest in speaking to Caputo at some point.

In February, though, Caputo indicated he didn't think much would come of any appearances he would make before the Senate panels.

"When I was before the House Intelligence Committee, it was clear to me that it was a fishing expedition," he said at the time. "I'm so marginal in this bogus investigation that for these Senate committees to be interviewing me just now indicates they are still just fishing, as well."




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