House Dems Take Critical Steps To Attain Trump’s Interpreter’s Notes

Committee leaders in the Democratic-led House of Representatives have spoken to the House general counsel regarding legal means of obtaining notes and other documents from President Donald Trump’s interpreter during private meetings with Russian President Vladimir Putin, according to a recent report.

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-California), the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, and Rep. Eliot Engel (D-New York), chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, revealed in a short interview with Politico that the discussions had taken place. Such discussions in the past have generally meant that House leaders are preparing to take the next steps forward on a particular issue.

Speaking with the House general counsel is a way to provide lawmakers with a crucial step of moving forward, ensuring that their actions will hold muster should a legal challenge come about.

“I had a meeting with the general counsel to discuss this and determine the best way to find out what took place in those private meetings” with Putin, Schiff said, “whether it’s by seeking the interpreter’s testimony, the interpreter’s notes, or other means.”

Democrats are hoping to find out what Trump and Putin talked over during many meetings, including the Helsinki summit between the two leaders last summer. That meeting in particular concerns Democratic leaders, as Trump seemingly said during public statements alongside Putin that he didn’t think Russia had anything to do with election meddling in the 2016 presidential election, thwarting his own American intelligence agencies’ assessments on the matter.

Trump later insisted, after great uproar from critics on both sides of the political aisle, that he had misspoke during those public statements, the Associated Press reported.

Due to the nature of his comments, Democratic lawmakers are seeking to understand what was spoken between the two leaders in the meeting. Trump and Putin met under highly unusual circumstances, where no one else from the White House was allowed to be present, a move that is atypical in such meetings with any foreign leader, per previous reporting from Hill Reporter.

The only individual allowed in was Trump’s interpreter. Trump reportedly went to great lengths to hide her notes, according to the Washington Post, including physically taking them away from the interpreter herself and telling her not to speak to anyone else in the White House about what was discussed.

Some Democrats are hesitant to move forward on subpoenaing that individual, noting that it could hamper future discussions with world leaders if they know interpreters’ notes could be up for grabs. But the peculiarities of this specific discussion between Trump and Putin compel them to take such action, they say.

“I’m not saying that I’m in favor of interpreters turning over all their notes, but I do think that it shouldn’t be up to the president to hide the notes,” Engel said.

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