Ex-Trump campaign manager Manafort offers to speak to House committee amid Russia probe

Rep. Nunes: Manafort willing to be interviewed by panel
Rep. Nunes: Manafort willing to be interviewed by panel

Former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort — whose ties to Russia have drawn scrutiny — has offered to speak to the House Intelligence Committee, the panel's chair, Rep. Devin Nunes, said Friday.

Manafort's lawyer contacted the committee and said Manafort volunteered to be interviewed, said Nunes, a California Republican and President Donald Trump ally. He does not yet know whether Manafort will appear at a public or closed session.

Manafort "voluntarily offered" to come to the committee, Nunes told reporters Friday. The panel is conducting an investigation into the extent of Moscow's influence on the 2016 election.

Manafort's spokesman told NBC News that he "looks forward to meeting with those conducting serious investigations of these issues to discuss the facts."

The congressman added that FBI Director James Comey and National Security Agency Director Adm. Michael Rogers will appear before the committee in a closed session. The panel will postpone another public hearing on the investigation that was set for Tuesday.

Schiff in a tweet criticized the decision to move the hearing, saying it is an "attempt to choke off public info."

BREAKING: Chairman just cancelled open Intelligence Committee hearing with Clapper, Brennan and Yates in attempt to choke off public info.

Comey will also brief the full House Intelligence Committee on the FBI's counterintelligence investigation into alleged Russian meddling in the election, which includes any possible ties between Trump's campaign and Moscow. He publicly confirmed the probe in a hearing Monday.

The briefing was previously limited to Nunes and Democratic ranking member Rep. Adam Schiff.

Nunes drew criticism after he held a news conference Wednesday to announce that he had seen intelligence reports showing that U.S. intelligence officials "incidentally collected" information related to Trump transition officials during "normal" foreign surveillance activities unrelated to the investigation into Moscow's role in the election. The Republican congressman then briefed Trump on the findings, which he said came from an unidentified source. He did not detail whose communications were intercepted and said it "appears to be all legally collected foreign intelligence."

Schiff, also of California, slammed Nunes' conduct, saying he has still not shared the reports with the committee, making it "impossible" to evaluate the purported communications caught up in surveillance. He argued that Nunes' decision to brief Trump before the intelligence panel strengthens the case for an independent commission on Russia.

Nunes then apologized to committee members.