Dem lawmaker calls on House to subpoena American translator from Trump-Putin meeting

Dem lawmaker calls on House to subpoena American translator from Trump-Putin meeting
© Haiyun Jiang

Rep. Bill PascrellWilliam (Bill) James PascrellRyan, lawmakers call on Catholic Church leaders to come clean Congress losing faith in Nobel Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi On The Money: Trump threatens 7B more in Chinese tariffs | Obama mocks GOP for taking credit for economy | US adds 201K jobs in strong August | Dems vow to get Trump's tax returns if they take the House MORE (D-N.J.) on Tuesday called for the American translator present during President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump: I hope voters pay attention to Dem tactics amid Kavanaugh fight South Korea leader: North Korea agrees to take steps toward denuclearization Graham calls handling of Kavanaugh allegations 'a drive-by shooting' MORE's private meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin to tell Congress what was said during the encounter.

In a letter to the leaders of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Pascrell said the panel should hear testimony from translator Marina Gross, who was the only other American in the room with Trump and Putin.

"Given the public concessions President Trump made to Russian President Vladimir Putin by siding against the U.S. intelligence community, law enforcement, and our military officials about Russia’s attack on our democracy, Congress and the American public deserve to know the details of their private conversation," Pascrell wrote. 

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His call echoes similar proposals made Tuesday by Sen. Jeanne ShaheenCynthia (Jeanne) Jeanne ShaheenSome employees' personal data revealed in State Department email breach: report Dems seek ways to block Trump support for Saudi-led coalition in Yemen Hillicon Valley: Trump signs off on sanctions for election meddlers | Russian hacker pleads guilty over botnet | Reddit bans QAnon forum | FCC delays review of T-Mobile, Sprint merger | EU approves controversial copyright law MORE (D-N.H.) and Rep. Joe KennedyJoseph (Joe) Patrick KennedyEx-GOP donor urges support for Dems in midterms: 'Democracy is at stake' Joe Kennedy: Trump's math counts black and brown lives less than white lives Senate Intel chief slams ex-CIA director for timing of claims about Trump-Russia ties MORE III (D-Mass.), who both said the American translator should testify in front of Congress.

Though Putin speaks English, both Trump and Putin had translators with them at the meeting in Helsinki due to protocol.

Trump and Putin met privately for more than two hours before their joint press conference on Monday. During the press conference, Trump denied Russian interference in the 2016 election and targeted special counsel Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE's investigation for souring relations between Russia and the U.S.

Trump's remarks were met with condemnation from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle. Though Trump on Tuesday insisted he supports the U.S. intelligence community's conclusion that Russia interfered in the recent election, he again said "other people" could have also been involved in election meddling. 

A number of lawmakers this week have proposed ways to push back on Trump's original remarks.

Pascrell noted that translators are not typically compelled to testify before Congress. The code of ethics published by the American Translators Association says translators must "hold in confidence" any privileged information they come across. 

"In general, any information that’s confidential has to remain confidential even if you’re an interpreter. For example, attorney-client confidentiality extends to interpreter," American Translators Association spokeswoman Judy Jenner said.

"But as a diplomatic interpreter, you are probably aware of how precarious things could possibly be."

"It may be unprecedented to subpoena a translator to reveal the details of a private meeting between the President and another world leader, but Trump’s actions are unprecedented in a way that harms our national security," Pascrell wrote in his letter to Reps. Trey GowdyHarold (Trey) Watson GowdyGowdy requests FEMA administrator’s travel records amid allegations Nunes: Russia probe documents should be released before election Gowdy: House Intel panel should release all transcripts from Russia probe MORE (R-S.C.) and Elijah CummingsElijah Eugene CummingsGraham to renew call for second special counsel Hillicon Valley: Sanders finds perfect target in Amazon | Cyberattacks are new fear 17 years after 9/11 | Firm outs alleged British Airways hackers | Trump to target election interference with sanctions | Apple creating portal for police data requests House Dems blast GOP for FBI, DOJ 'conspiracy theories' aimed to protect Trump MORE (D-Md.), the chairman and ranking member of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, respectively.

Pascrell listed evidence that members of the Trump family continue to profit from their businesses, some of which have connections to Russia.

"Over the years, the Trump family has bragged about their financial connections to Russia," Pascrell wrote, citing several quotes by Trump's sons boasting about the Trump Organization's ties to Russia. 

For example, Pascrell listed a time that the president's son Eric TrumpEric Frederick TrumpAvenatti attacks Trump campaign over fundraising photo: 'What a joke' Ex-Trump, progressive strategists battle over charges of anti-Semitism surrounding Eric Trump Bill Kristol slams Eric Trump over 'shekels' comment MORE said in 2014, "We don’t rely on American banks. We have all the funding we need out of Russia." 

"Given this history, the American people deserve to know if Trump used his position or this meeting with Putin to continue to pursue his own financial interests," Pascrell wrote.

"I urge you to subpoena the U.S. translator so the American people can get more insight into the dangerous, jaw-dropping performance we saw from Trump in Helsinki," he added.