Almost no one knows what he said to the Russian dictator behind closed doors.
Trump seems to have worked very hard to keep the details of his one-on-one meetings with Russian President Vladimir Putin a secret — and now Congress wants answers.
Three House committee chairmen on Monday announced they are seeking documents and interviews from a host of senior White House officials relating to Trump's conversations with Putin.
"President Trump, on multiple occasions, appears to have taken steps to conceal the details of his communications with President Putin from other administration officials, Congress, and the American people," the Democratic chairs of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, House Foreign Affairs Committee, and House Committee on Oversight and Reform wrote in a letter to acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney on Monday.
The three committee chairs — Reps. Adam Schiff of California, Elliot Engel of New York, and Elijah Cummings of Maryland — wrote in the letter that Trump "reportedly seized notes pertaining to at least one meeting held with President Putin and directed at least one American interpreter not to discuss the substance of communications with President Putin with other federal officials."
And they added that Trump's efforts to hide his communications with Putin "raise profound national security, counterintelligence, and foreign policy concerns, especially in light of Russia’s ongoing active measures campaign to improperly influence American elections."
The three committee chairmen said this attempt at secrecy warrants an expanded investigation into Trump's communications with Putin.
They're seeking information on:
- The substance of Trump's communications with Putin.
- Any documents related to the "existence and contents" of Trump's communications with Putin.
- Documents that show whether Trump's talks with Putin "provided a basis for reconsideration, modification, or implementation of foreign policy."
- If Trump "sought to conceal, obscure, or otherwise misrepresent the substance of those communications."
- And if Trump or anyone working for him "failed to create records of, or in any way destroyed, suppressed, mishandled, or otherwise withheld any federal or presidential records."
Also included in the information the chairmen are seeking is access 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."
Specifically, the chairmen are seeking access to interview those who staffed Trump's meeting with Putin on July 7, 2017 at the G-20 summit in Hamburg, Germany, as well as his disastrous July 16, 2018 meeting with Putin in Helsinki, Finland.
This is not the first major oversight step House Democrats took on Monday.
The House Judiciary Committee announced the launch of a massive new probe looking into Trump's possible obstruction of justice, abuse of power, and public corruption. They launched the probe by demanding documents from more than 80 people and entities, including Trump's businesses.
This is what real oversight looks like, and is a clear reason why Republicans were so scared to lose the House.
Trump can't hide anymore.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.