Caputo to Speak at Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday

Second visit to Washington to meet with Congress

Mike Baggerman
May 01, 2018 - 12:01 pm

WASHINGTON, D.C. (WBEN) - East Aurora native and GOP political strategist Michael Caputo, who worked on President Trump's presidential campaign in 2015 and 2016, testified in front of the Senate Intelligence Committee in Washington on Tuesday. 

This marks the second time that Caputo traveled to Washington, D.C. to speak about his involvement in the Trump campaign and whether there was any sort of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. Caputo said the House Intelligence Committee also questioned him about his two decades spent living in Russia.

Caputo wrote on Facebook on Tuesday afternoon that finished his hearing.

"It's really another fishing expedition," Caputo told WBEN on Monday. "It's another waste of time. What really should have happened - and never happens, unfortuantely - is they should have taken my testimony from the house side and read it over on the senate side so they wouldn't waste my time and money and force me to come to Washington with attorneys just to say the same thing all over again."

Caputo's Attorney, Dennis Vacco, spoke briefly before entering the meeting Tuesday morning.

"I think we know what to anticipate because we’ve been here before, not before this committee, but last July we were before the House committee, we don’t anticipate the questioning to be any different," Vacco said. "The answers certainly won’t be.”

"I’m looking forward to talking to the Senate committee. I hope it’s the last time I’m asked to talk to anyone in Congress," Caputo added. "There was no Russian collusion; we didn’t speak to Russians. We didn’t use Russian dressing. This is a witch hunt, a fishing expedition, and I can’t wait until it’s over."

Caputo estimated that his legal fees cost him upwards of $125,000. To help pay for his legal bills, Caputo set up the website,, where people can donate.

"We're just like every other family in Western New York," Caputo said. "I may have been around a bit, working in Washington for a while. I live happily here in our Western New York quality of life. But none of us from here can afford $125,000 in legal fees. It's tough on us but we're hoping to hang on and get through it."

He said between 50 and 60 people have donated.

Caputo, last July, preemptively released his opening statement to the House Intelligence Committee: 

I want to thank the Committee for consenting to my request for a meeting. I hope my testimony will provide clarity on relevant issues of interest to the Committee and set the record straight with respect to certain comments made about me and my family in the recent past.

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. Criticizing the Kremlin, I concluded:

“There is no valid reason why a nation so tolerant -- even complicit -- in organized crime should stand on par with world leaders in groups such as the World Trade Organization. Putin must stand as the guarantor of media freedom. And the Bush administration must demand results in this murder investigation…”

These are not the words of a Russian president’s publicist. In the last decade, I’ve leveled similar public criticisms. They, too, are easily found on the Web.

I’ve also leveled similar criticism on Twitter, particularly since July 2016. Comments like: 

Sure, we're having fun with the @wikileaks #DNCleak but this is a provocation by @KremlinRussia_E and must be dealt with. Stat.

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. Just as not every Italian American is associated with organized crime, not every Ukrainian woman is connected to President Putin. In fact, few are. Maybe none. For a number of reasons, my wife certainly is not.

As I am sure you are aware, the work of the Committee and statements made by Members of the Committee have consequences. Within minutes of Rep. Speier’s statements, my wife and I 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.

I understand why the Committee may be interested in me and my work, but I want to take the present opportunity to make the salient facts clear: I worked for the Trump campaign from late November 2015 to June 20, 2016. As director of the New York State primary campaign, based in Buffalo, I worked with autonomy because we had frustratingly rare and momentary contact with the national campaign.

After the New York primary, I moved to the New York City headquarters. There, I functioned in a silo where my role was limited and directed by others. I had no autonomy. I was not a decision-maker. On or about June 1, 2016, I was appointed Director of Communications for Caucus Operations at the Republican National Convention. I recall no substantive contact with the Trump campaign during this period, as I was directed by Ryan Price, head of Caucus Operations, and followed the chain of command.

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.

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.

I served in the United States Army Infantry in the 1980s. In the 1990s, the United States Government sent me to serve my country in Russia. In between, I proudly served in Congress, where I worked as an Assistant Director of the United States House of Representatives Radio and Television Gallery. There, I coordinated broadcast media coverage of more than 100 committee hearings, including at least one held by the House Intelligence Committee.

I know this House. I know your work. I am a believer in regular order and the vital nature of the committee process in lawmaking and investigation. I respect this institution deeply and I’m here to offer my assistance in your inquiry. I am especially interested in helping you seek the truth and, if possible, to dial down the partisan rhetoric that can and does have real and serious consequences to ordinary people like my family and me.


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