Washington, United States, Jul 18 – Democratic lawmakers on Wednesday pushed for Congress to subpoena Donald Trump’s interpreter, amid a growing sense of alarm over the private summit in Helsinki between the US president and Russia’s Vladimir Putin.
The two presidents held a two-hour closed-door negotiation with no other officials present save for the leaders’ interpreters. Democrats say the woman who translated for Trump — and the notes she likely took during the meeting — could provide critical information about what transpired.
“We want the interpreter to come before the committee. We want to see the notes,” Senator Bob Menendez, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told MSNBC.
“We’re going to have a massive effort to try to get to what happened.”
Lawmakers on both sides of the political aisle have expressed concern — even outrage — about Trump’s positive take on Putin during Monday’s post-meeting joint press conference.
Senators Richard Blumenthal and Jeanne Shaheen have also called for the interpreter to testify.
Shaheen said the hearing could help lawmakers and the American people “determine what was specifically discussed and agreed to on the United States’ behalf.”
Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman Bob Corker said he understands the request and was “looking into precedent” to see if it was viable.
The White House is highly likely to swat away the request and invoke executive privilege, arguing that no president is required to reveal private conversations and that an aide, such as a translator, should not be compelled to do so either.
“They’re not policy people. They are in some cases contract folks,” Corker told reporters.
“In the future, would any notes even be allowed to be taken if you started doing this kind of thing?”
Corker said a better option would be to grill Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who was in Helsinki with Trump and most likely was debriefed by the president about the summit discussions.
Pompeo is scheduled to testify before the committee on July 25.
Blumenthal for his part says he wants to see “the whole national security team, beginning with (National Security Advisor) John Bolton,” brought before Congress to provide details on the Trump-Putin meeting.