WASHINGTON – Michael R. Caputo is refusing to cooperate with the House Judiciary Committee's sprawling investigation into the 2016 Donald Trump presidential campaign, and his lawyer said it's because the East Aurora political consultant has none of the sort of information the panel is seeking.
A day after the committee sent Caputo a broad request for documents connected to key figures in the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 campaign, his lawyer, Dennis C. Vacco, responded with a letter that said: "In summary, Mr. Caputo is not in possession of any documentation responsive to your request."
Also in the letter, Vacco said he received a phone call from a Judiciary Committee staffer who asked, among other things, if Caputo would submit to an interview. Vacco said in the letter and in a phone interview Wednesday that there is no need for Caputo to do that, given that he already testified under oath before the House Intelligence Committee, the Senate Intelligence Committee and lawyers from special counsel Robert Mueller's office.
"How many times? How many times is this guy going to be required to testify under oath?" Vacco said in the interview.
The Judiciary Committee Monday sent requests for information to about 80 people or institutions connected to the 2016 Trump campaign, including Caputo, who worked for the Trump campaign from November 2015 through May 2016 and the Republican convention for the first 20 days of June 2016.
In a letter, Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler asked Caputo for 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.
Nadler, a Manhattan Democrat, also asked Caputo for any documents 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 for any documents involving contacts between Manafort, his longtime aide Rick Gates and three foreign figures who have been central to Mueller's probe of Russian meddling in the 2016 campaign.
But Vacco said there's no need for Caputo to provide those documents because he simply doesn't have them.
"Mr. Caputo is not in possession of any documents relating to the June 9, 2016 Trump Tower meeting," Vacco said.
Similarly, Vacco said Caputo doesn't have any documents about any Russian contacts with the Trump campaign, or any documents regarding contacts Manafort and Gates might have had with figures involved in Russia's campaign meddling. Any contacts Caputo had with Manafort or Gates were about routine campaign business, not anything to do with Russia, Vacco said in the interview.
In the letter, though, Vacco acknowledged that Caputo had met Konstantin Kilimnik, who is believed to be tied to Russian intelligence and who is one of the central figures in the investigations of Russian meddling in the 2016 campaign.
"Mr. Caputo did meet Kilimnik in the 1990s when Kilimnik worked for the U.S. government in Moscow during the Clinton Administration," Vacco wrote. "However,
Mr. Caputo has not communicated with Kilimnik since, nor did Kilimnik's name surface at all during Mr. Caputo's time working on the 2016 presidential campaign of Donald J. Trump."
As for the notion of Caputo appearing before the Judiciary Committee, Vacco dismissed such a possibility as redundant.
"Respectfully, there are only so many ways the same questions can be asked of Mr. Caputo," Vacco wrote.
Vacco also once again suggested that Caputo's 2017 testimony before the House Intelligence Committee be publicly released. Vacco added that he saw no reason why the Judiciary panel couldn't just ask the Intelligence Committee for a transcript of its session with Caputo.
House Judiciary Committee staffers did not respond to requests for comments on Vacco's letter about the investigation – which, Vacco said, Caputo simply couldn't help.
"He's got nothing to hide around the so-called collusion investigation," Vacco said in the interview. "He's got no information, nor does he have any knowledge."