Trump makes policy pledge to senator investigating son’s Russia meeting

President promises federal support for ethanol to industry backer Chuck Grassley a day after reports that Trump Jr will meet with Grassley’s committee

Donald Trump greets Chuck Grassley on the campaign trail last year. Photograph: Mary Altaffer/AP

Donald Trump called a senior Republican senator from Iowa on Wednesday whose congressional committee is investigating his son, Donald Trump Jr, and promised him critical federal support for the biofuel ethanol, a key issue for the lawmaker.

Chuck Grassley, the chairman of the Senate judiciary committee and a major advocate of the ethanol industry, announced on Twitter that he had received a phone call from Trump and had been assured by the US president that Trump was “pro ethanol” and was “standing by his campaign promise” to support the biofuel.

The phone call came less than a day after CNN reported that Trump’s eldest son had reached an agreement with the committee to appear in a private session and answer investigators’ questions. The committee, which has oversight of the Department of Justice, is investigating a 2016 meeting that occurred in Trump Tower before November’s election. During the meeting, Trump Jr and other campaign staff met with Russian operatives after being promised compromising information about the Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton.

The interview with investigators could take place in the next few weeks, according to CNN.

The White House did not immediately respond to requests for comment on what prompted the president to call Grassley and promise him support for ethanol – a vital issue for Grassley’s home state – or whether the two discussed Grassley’s oversight of the committee’s Russia probe.

In a second tweet, Grassley said that the US president “knows that ethanol is good good good”.

Tlkd 2 @realDonaldTrump about ethanol +he knows that ethanol is good good good

— ChuckGrassley (@ChuckGrassley) August 30, 2017

The Iowa senator did not divulge any additional details about Trump’s promise or whether it represented a shift in White House energy policy. Trump, like many US politicians in the throes of presidential campaigns, was a vocal advocate of the ethanol industry while he was campaigning in Iowa, a top corn-producing state.

A spokesman for Grassley said by email: “The president called Senator Grassley and talked briefly about ethanol. It was a two-minute conversation. Senator Grassley told the president he was glad to hear him voice his support for…

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