Ernst: Intelligence agencies should question Trump’s interpreter, not Congress

Ernst: Intelligence agencies should question Trump’s interpreter, not Congress
© Greg Nash

Sen. Joni ErnstJoni Kay ErnstSenators introduce bill to change process to levy national security tariffs Overnight Defense: Pompeo spars with senators at hearing | Trump, Putin meeting won't happen until next year | Pentagon was caught off guard by White House on Syria Andrew Wheeler must reverse damage to American heartland MORE (R-Iowa) on Thursday rejected the suggestion that Congress should interview the interpreter present at a private meeting earlier this week between President TrumpDonald John TrumpWhite House counsel called Trump 'King Kong' behind his back: report Trump stays out of Arizona's ugly and costly GOP fight Trump claims he instructed White House counsel to cooperate with Mueller MORE and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Ernst during an appearance on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" pushed back against congressional involvement, saying if anyone is to question the interpreter, it should be U.S. intelligence agencies.

"I think that would be the appropriate place to start," she said.

"To make a show of it at Congress, I don't know that that would help the situation any," she added. "But certainly if we need answers, it needs to be done through the intelligence community."

Some Democrats, including Sen. Jeanne ShaheenCynthia (Jeanne) Jeanne ShaheenBusinesses fear blowback from Russia sanctions bill Hillicon Valley: Trump officials deliver show of force on election security | Apple hits trillion | How fake Facebook groups manipulated real activists | Senate group seeks new Russia sanctions Senators introduce bill to slap 'crushing' new sanctions on Russia MORE (N.H.), have called for a hearing with the American interpreter to determine what was said. The White House has not released any details of the conversation between the two leaders.

Ernst also said on Thursday Trump should have had someone in the room with him during the meeting with Putin to take notes.

"We don't know what followup actions, if any, are out there. We don't know what the president's demands are. We don't know what president Putin's demands are," Ernst said.

"So, I always would encourage the president to make sure that he has someone who has got his back, that is taking care, writing down those requests, those demands," she continued. That way we do know."


Trump held an extensive one-on-one meeting with Putin in Finland on Monday with only interpreters present. Aides for both leaders then joined the talks for a shorter bilateral meeting before Trump and Putin held a press conference.

Trump's performance there has been widely criticized after he cast doubt on whether he believes the U.S. intelligence committee's assessment that Russia interfered in the 2016 election. He has since attempted to walk back those statements, only to undercut those efforts.