WASHINGTON — Former Donald Trump senior adviser Michael Caputo testified behind closed doors Friday before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and tore apart committee members for accusing him for playing a role in Russia’s election meddling.
In his opening statement he went after Democratic committee member, California Rep. Jackie Speier, for charging Caputo for being Russia President Vladimir Putin’s image consultant back on March 20.
“Contrary to Rep. Jackie Speier’s comments in your March 20 public hearing, I was never President Vladimir Putin’s ‘image consultant.’ To the contrary, a simple Google search would have revealed a great deal, including my July 2004 op-ed in the Washington Post, written after my colleague was murdered in Moscow,” he said.
He later said, “Other statements made during the March 20 public hearing about me were also inaccurate. For instance, Rep. Speier mentioned that my business failed in Russia without noting a simple historical fact: tens of thousands of businesses failed there in the wake of the 1998 Ruble devaluation and the subsequent economic meltdown.”
“For some reason, the congresswoman also got personal, unnecessarily mentioning my wife. Of course, my wife is Ukrainian – and you don’t need Google to understand why our marriage does not support the Congresswoman’s hypothesis that I’m a Putinist,” Caputo added. “Just as not every Italian American is associated with organized crime, not every Ukrainian woman is connected to President Putin.”
Caputo described how he and his wife, who became an American citizen back in February, were accused of impropriety by Speier and other Democratic committee members happened they both were “buried in threats.”
“That day and those that followed were both terrifying and, ultimately, ironic: My wife, a hardworking wife and mother, proudly became an American citizen in February. A month later, she was unfairly scrutinized, demonized and threatened as a result of comments made by members of this Committee that lacked investigation and context,” he said.
Caputo testified that he worked for the Trump campaign from late November 2015 to June 20, 2016 as director of the New York State primary campaign in Buffalo. Following the primary, he moved to the Trump New York City headquarters. He testified he had “no autonomy” and was “not a decision maker.”
Around June 1, 2016, he said he was appointed Director of Communications for the Caucus Operations at the Republican National Convention.
“From the day President Trump announced his candidacy until Inauguration Day, to my knowledge I never spoke about his campaign with anyone remotely associated with the Russian government. At no time did I ever talk about Russian contacts with any member of the campaign. I certainly did not hear talk of collusion with Russia or any foreign nation,” he said. “The only time I spoke about Russia with Donald Trump was in passing, during a dinner conversation in 2013, long before he decided to run for President. He simply asked: ‘What was it like to live in Russia.’ Our exchange may have lasted 30 seconds.”
In his closing remarks, Caputo remarked he has had interesting life as an international public relations consultant, but as someone with no Russian clients or revenue coming from Russia since 2004, he can only claim his past experience in Russia as part of his business. The charges from committee members against him, he testified, damaged him and his family financially.
“I’m a Bills fan. I’m not a Gucci-loafered lobbyist. I’m not selling a book. I’m not a celebrity seeking publicity. I won’t be profiting in any manner from my appearance here today, or future appearances. In fact, your investigation and others into the allegations of Trump campaign collusion with Russia are costing my family a great deal of money. I’m paying for this in the only way an average guy can: I have liquidated my children’s college fund.”