By Max Kutner
A member of the House Intelligence Committee wants the panel to interview Eric Trump, the son of President Donald Trump, as part of its investigation into Russia’s election meddling.
Representative Joaquin Castro (D–Texas) told Newsweek last week: “We still have many interviews that are being scheduled, more documents that we’re receiving from witnesses and other evidence. We need to visit with some of the principals, including Donald Trump Jr., Eric Trump and others that we’ve not had a chance to sit down with yet.” Asked if such discussions were ongoing or would begin soon, the Texas congressman added, “Yeah. Most of these requests have already been put forward by Democrats to the majority.” A spokeswoman for Castro later clarified that the process of requesting the interview had not started and that there no current plans to begin the process.
The House Intelligence Committee is one of three congressional panels investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election and possible coordination with the Trump campaign. (Department of Justice special counsel Robert Mueller is overseeing a separate investigation.) While congressional investigators have showed interest in the president’s oldest child, Donald Trump Jr., who took a meeting with a Kremlin-connected lawyer during the presidential campaign, and Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser, Castro’s comments appear to be the first public indication that any of the committees are considering speaking with the president’s youngest child from his first marriage.
Eric Trump, 33, is an executive vice president at the Trump Organization. His wife, Lara Trump, is a senior adviser to Trump’s 2020 campaign, which is already fundraising and communicating with supporters. Trump and his two older siblings were on their father’s presidential transition team. A spokeswoman for the Trump Organization was unavailable to comment on Castro’s remarks.
Trump seems to have has kept a greater distance from the Russia issue than his older brother. But in 2013, he allegedly boasted to the author James Dodson that Russian money allowed the Trump Organization to pursue golf course projects while the United States was recovering from the economic recession. “We don’t rely on American banks,” Trump allegedly said, according to Dodson. “We have all the funding we need out of Russia.”
Trump has denied saying that about the golf courses. He told the New York Post in May, “It’s a recollection from some guy three years ago through a third person.” In a tweet, Trump later added that the claim was “completely fabricated and just another example of why there is such a deep distrust of the media in our country.” A few months later, in a July interview with Fox & Friends, he called the allegations of Russian collusion “nonsense” and “the greatest witch hunt of all time.”
Aside from the Russia issue, the office of New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said in June it is “looking into” the Eric Trump Foundation. The announcement came after Forbes reported that the Donald J. Trump Foundation allegedly used the Eric Trump Foundation to funnel money to the Trump Organization and to charities with ties to Trump family members. The Eric Trump Foundation has said, “At no time did the Trump Organization profit in any way from the foundation or any of its activities. While people can disagree on political issues, to infer malicious intent on a charity that has changed so many lives, is not only shameful, but is truly disgusting.”
So far in November, the House Intelligence Committee has met with witnesses including Carter Page, who was a foreign policy adviser on the Trump campaign, and Keith Schiller, President Trump’s former director of Oval Office operations and longtime bodyguard. On November 8, the committee announced plans to interview Glenn Simpson of Fusion GPS, the firm behind a controversial dossier on the president.
A spokesperson for Representative Mike Conaway, the Republican committee member overseeing the investigation following the recusal of Representative Devin Nunes, the committee chairman, did not respond to a request for comment about a potential Eric Trump interview.