Dems Want Access To Translators Present At Trump-Putin Meetings

BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA - NOVEMBER,30 (RUSSIA OUT) U.S. President Donald Trump (R) looks on Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) during the family photo at the G20 Summit's Plenary Meeting in Buenos Aires, Argentina, November,30,2018. U.S.Preisident Donald Trump has cancelled his meeting with Vladimir Putin at the G20 Summit in Argentina planned on Saturday. (Photo by Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Image
Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images Europe

The Democratic chairmen of the House Intelligence, Oversight and Foreign Affairs Committees wrote to the White House chief of staff and the secretary of state on Monday demanding a response to their questions about President Trump’s interactions with Russian President Vladimir Putin and requesting new information about the substance of their conversations.

They also asked the White House and State Department to make translators and other Americans who were present during the meetings and phone calls between Trump and Putin available for committee interviews.

“Congress has a constitutional duty to conduct oversight over the Department and the White House to determine, among other things, the impact of those communications [between Trump and Putin] on U.S. foreign policy, whether federal officials, including President Trump, have acted in the national interest, and whether the applicable laws, regulations, and agency procedures with respect to diplomatic communications with President Putin and other foreign leaders have been complied with and remain sufficient,” Chairmen Adam Schiff (D-CA), Elijah Cummings (D-MD) and Eliot Engel (D-NY) wrote.

The letter follows another from last month, in which the three chairmen cited a report that Trump had seized his translator’s notes after a meeting with Putin and taken other steps to restrict information about his meetings with Russia’s president. They also cited a report that Trump rips up documents when he’s done with them, and a report that the broad label of “executive time” conceals meetings and calls of which the White House has no paper record  — at least, according to a White House official’s response to the story.

“The White House failed to provide any response to our inquiry,” the chairmen wrote Monday of their February document request. “As a result, we are now expanding our investigation.”

The new requests in the letters to Mulvaney and Pompeo include one for “all documents referring or related to in-person meetings” between Trump and Putin.

In addition, the Democrats instructed the White House and State Department to make available relevant personnel for interviews, including “all staff, including but not limited to linguists, translators, or interpreters who participated in[,] attended, or in any way listened in on President Trump’s in-person meetings with president Putin, as well as President Trump’s phone calls with President Putin,” and other relevant personnel who staffed or have knowledge of the meetings between the leaders.

Read the letters to Mulvaney and Pompeo below:

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