Trump and Putin reportedly made a military deal behind closed doors. Republicans don't want to know what it was.
Every single Republican member of the House Intelligence Committee voted on Thursday to shield Trump from scrutiny, even as U.S. officials scramble to figure out what deals Trump might have promised Russian dictator Vladimir Putin during their one-on-one meeting in Helsinki, Finland.
Democrats on the committee, Adam Schiff (D-CA) and Eric Swalwell (D-CA), had moved to subpoena a U.S. translator, who was the only American witness to Trump's private meeting with Putin.
But Republicans refused to allow the subpoena, in yet another example of the party running interference for Trump on all things Russia-related.
The ongoing mystery and confusion about the meeting has reached a new height of urgency now that the Russian government says it's "ready for practical implementation of the agreements" Putin made with Trump. No one knows what those "agreements" are, and the White House refuses to clarify.
Trump isn't telling anyone the details of what he agreed to with Putin — not even the Pentagon, the Washington Post reported.
The Republicans' vote means that even senior officials within the national security community, not to mention members of Congress and American citizens, will remain completely in the dark about what happened between Trump and Putin.
White House officials are still struggling to explain why the summit was even called in the first place. It was obvious from the beginning that the U.S. had no stated goals going in, other than supposedly improving relations with Russia.
So why did Trump do it? Democrats want answers, which is why they wanted to get firsthand reporting by subpoenaing the translator who witnessed Trump's closed-door meeting with Putin.
I applaud @RepAdamSchiff & House Democrats who moved to subpoena the American interpreter present during @realDonaldTrump’s conversation with Putin. Unsurprisingly, Republicans rejected the idea. #ProtectOurDemocracy
— Nancy Pelosi (@NancyPelosi) July 19, 2018
The latest GOP stonewalling comes as the New York Times reports that in January 2017, senior intelligence officials privately presented Trump with extensive evidence that Putin had personally ordered cyberattacks against the U.S. in an attempt to sway the 2016 elections.
Yet for nearly 18 months, Trump has constantly muddied this very clear problem in his public statements.
Trump has alternated between denying Russia played any role in attacking the U.S., and suggesting that official U.S. investigations into the matter are a "witch hunt."
Just last week, special counsel Robert Mueller indicted 12 Russian intelligence officers and charged them with interfering in the 2016 U.S. elections. And on Monday, a Russian graduate student with ties to the National Rifle Association, which consistently supports Republicans, was charged with being a Russian spy while she studied in the U.S.
Republicans can try to keep Trump's shady dealings with Russia a secret. But it won't be possible for them to keep up this charade forever.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.