President Trump's eldest son to face congressional questions on his contacts with Russians, WikiLeaks

After his father was elected president, Donald Trump Jr. said he would turn his attention away from politics and back to running the family business empire.

But President Trump’s eldest son has been unable to completely turn the page as investigators scrutinize his contacts with Russian intermediaries during the campaign last year. He’s scheduled to return to Capitol Hill on Wednesday to answer questions behind closed doors with the House Intelligence Committee.

At issue are recent revelations about communications between Trump Jr. and WikiLeaks, the secretive web organization that released hacked Democratic Party emails as part of what U.S. intelligence officials say was a Russian effort to help sway the election toward Trump.

Trump Jr. publicly disclosed the private Twitter messages, which were exchanged from September 2016 through July 2017, after their existence was revealed by the Atlantic magazine.

Most of the outreach from WikiLeaks went unanswered by Trump Jr., according to the messages he released. But two days after WikiLeaks asked him to help promote a website where it was posting emails stolen from the account of Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager, Trump Jr. shared the link on his Twitter account.

The communications with WikiLeaks stoked fresh interest in Trump Jr.’s broader role in the campaign. He already has acknowledged meeting in June 2016 with a Russian lawyer who promised that she had incriminating information on Hillary Clinton that could help his father’s White House bid.

"To the extent they had information concerning the fitness, character or qualifications of a presidential candidate, I believed that I should at least hear them out," he said when he met with the Senate Judiciary Committee in September.

Trump Jr. said the meeting did not produce any useful information about Trump’s Democratic rival and soon shifted to a dispute over a U.S. law that levied sanctions on some Russian officials and businessmen.

A lawyer for Trump Jr. did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday. Representatives for the Democrat and Republican lawmakers leading the Russia investigation for the House Intelligence Committee declined to talk about upcoming interviews.

In addition to the congressional probes, Tuesday brought more questions about special counsel Robert S. Mueller’s investigation into whether anyone in Trump’s orbit assisted Russian interference in the election.

Bloomberg, Reuters and the German newspaper Handelsblatt reported that Mueller had subpoenaed Deutsche Bank for financial records related to $300 million in loans it gave to Trump before he ran for president, a sign that the special counsel was expanding his investigation beyond the campaign.

The bank would neither confirm nor deny receiving a subpoena, but a member of Trump’s legal team said the reports were not accurate.

“No subpoena has been issued or received,” the lawyer, Jay Sekulow, said in a statement. “We have confirmed this with the bank and other sources.”

Trump Jr. is not the only presidential family member facing scrutiny from the Russia investigation.

More details trickled out after Michael Flynn, the president’s former national security advisor, pleaded guilty on Friday to lying to federal agents about his contacts with the Russian ambassador after the election.

Flynn agreed to cooperate with prosecutors, and a court filing in the case says a “very senior member” of Trump’s transition team directed Flynn to call the Russian ambassador and other foreign officials in an effort to short-circuit a pending United Nations resolution on Israel last December.

A former official identified the “very senior member” as Jared Kushner, who is married to the president’s daughter Ivanka and who serves as a White House advisor.

Since Trump had not taken office, the attempted interference with U.S. foreign policy by a private citizen was a potential violation of the law.

Rep. Adam B. Schiff, a Burbank Democrat and the ranking member on the House Intelligence Committee, said he wants to bring Kushner back for more questioning about that incident.

“If Mr. Kushner was involved in that, he’d have a lot to tell us that he hasn’t told us so far,” Schiff said Saturday. Kushner met privately with the committee in July.

chris.megerian@latimes.com

Twitter: @chrismegerian

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