WASHINGTON – House Democrats on Monday asked East Aurora political consultant Michael R. Caputo to provide documents they want to see in their investigation of contacts between the 2016 Donald Trump presidential campaign and Russia – including any information about the June 9, 2016, Trump Tower meeting involving campaign officials and a Russian lawyer promising to deliver dirt on Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, a Manhattan Democrat, also asked Caputo to provide the panel with any documents he has related to contacts involving Russia and the Trump campaign and several of its top figures, including Trump himself and former campaign manager Paul Manafort.
In addition, Nadler asked Caputo to produce any documents involving contacts between Manafort, his longtime aide Rick Gates and three foreign figures who have been central to special counsel Robert Mueller's probe of Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.
Caputo was one of 80 individuals and organizations the Judiciary Committee contacted on Monday in pursuit of information – but it was among the more surprising.
The local conservative consultant/talk radio figure, who worked for the Trump campaign from November 2015 through May 2016 and the Republican convention for the first 20 days of June 2016, has never before been connected with the infamous Trump Tower meeting in any way.
Contacted Monday evening, Caputo denied any knowledge or contacts involving the Trump Tower meeting.
"House Judiciary Democrats are asking me about a meeting I didn’t know about nor attend while I worked for the convention (in Cleveland) 500 miles away," Caputo said via text message. "The only documents I have are emails with Paul Manafort and Rick Gates, my supervisors on the campaign, and they rarely emailed me so my submission will be minimal."
The committee's document requests, however, were extensive.
Nadler's panel asked Caputo to submit any documents he has regarding the Trump Tower meeting and several individuals known to have attended it, including Manafort, Donald Trump Jr. and Jared Kushner, the president's son-in-law. The committee also asked Caputo for any documents involving Natalia Veselnitskaya, the Russian lawyer who attended the meeting; Rob Goldstone, the British publicist who set it up; and three others with varying degrees of connection to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
And perhaps most notably, the committee asked Caputo for any documents involving Trump – at the time the presumptive Republican presidential nominee – and the Trump Tower meeting. Trump has long denied any advance knowledge of the meeting, which is believed to be one of the key events Mueller is investigating as he tries to determine whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia's efforts to help his campaign.
The committee's request was far broader than that, though. It also sought any documents Caputo had from Jan. 1, 2015, through Trump's inauguration more than two years later about any contacts "between or involving the Russian Federation and its officials, agents, intermediaries, and/or instrumentalities and any of the following: Donald Trump, the Trump Campaign, the Trump Organization, Paul Manafort, Rick Gates, Michael Cohen, Michael Flynn, Jeff Sessions, Jared Kushner, Thomas Bossert, Roger Stone, Jerome Corsi, George Papadopoulos, Carter Page, Konstantin Kilimnik, K.T. McFarland, and/or Erik Prince."
That's an extensive list that includes Trump's former attorney general (Sessions); four people who have pleaded guilty or been convicted in connection with the Mueller probe (Manafort, Gates, former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn and George Papadopoulos); a longtime Trump and Caputo confident who is under indictment in the probe (Stone); a former Trump lawyer who pleaded guilty to crimes in Manhattan federal court and vilified the president at a congressional hearing (Cohen); and several other figures connected to the Trump campaign.
The committee also asked Caputo for "any contacts, direct or indirect, from Jan. 1, 2016 to the present between Paul Manafort and/or Rick Gates and any of the following individuals: Konstantin Kilimnik, Serhiy Lyovochkin, and/or Rinat Akhmetov."
Kilimnik is a Ukrainian-Russian political consultant who Mueller has charged with interfering with Manafort's prosecution by tampering with a witness. Lyovochkin and Akhmetov are oligarchs who, according to a New York Times report, could have been connected to Manafort's efforts to provide Trump campaign data to Kilimnik, who is believed to be connected with Russian intelligence.
The House and Senate Intelligence Committees interviewed Caputo in their Russia probes in 2017, and he met with prosecutors working with Mueller last year.
Caputo at first denied any contacts with Russia during the Trump campaign, but later amended his testimony to note that in May 2016 he helped connect a Russian named Henry Greenberg – who was offering "dirt" on Hillary Clinton – with Stone.
But the Judiciary Committee didn't ask Caputo anything about his contacts with Greenberg.
In addition, the committee told Caputo that, in order to save time, he could limit the documents he produces to those he had already filed in other proceedings, including the Mueller and earlier congressional investigations.
For his part, Caputo seemed mystified that the Judiciary Committee had contacted him at all.
"I’m just a witness to nothing, not a target for anything, so if they call me in to testify, it’s just for harassment," he said. "I’ve been through a lot of harassment already, so I have the best legal team of anyone caught up in this bogus investigation and 8,500 donors who will stand with me and fight. So if they want to come at me, bring it. I’m right here."