Dems demand access to interpreters at Trump's meetings with Putin

Dems demand access to interpreters at Trump's meetings with Putin
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A pair of key Senate Democrats are demanding access to interpreters present for all of President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump nominates ambassador to Turkey Trump heads to Mar-a-Lago after signing bill to avert shutdown CNN, MSNBC to air ad turned down by Fox over Nazi imagery MORE's meetings with Russian President Vladimir Putin since he took office.

Sens. Bob MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezWilliam Barr is right man for the times This week: Trump delivers State of the Union amid wall fight BuzzFeed story has more to say about media than the president MORE (D-N.J.) and Jack ReedJohn (Jack) Francis ReedPapering over climate change impacts is indefensible Why Democrats are pushing for a new nuclear policy GOP chairman: US military may have to intervene in Venezuela if Russia does MORE (D-R.I.), the ranking members of the Senate Foreign Relations and Armed Services committees, respectively, sent a letter to Trump on Wednesday requesting that the interpreters be made available for congressional interviews.

“In light of the continuing level of secrecy shrouding your interactions with the Russian leader, we insist that the interpreters for these interactions, especially the individual who interpreted for your meeting with President Putin in Helsinki, be made immediately available for interviews with the relevant committees in Congress,” they wrote.

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The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Hill.

The letter comes as the White House defends itself against renewed scrutiny of Trump’s possible ties to Moscow. 

The Washington Post reported last week that Trump concealed details about encounters with Putin from officials in his administration on multiple occasions and confiscated notes on one occasion from his own interpreter, directing him not to discuss the meeting with others. 

The New York Times also reported last week that Trump’s abrupt firing of former FBI Director James ComeyJames Brien ComeyMcCabe's 25th Amendment comments 'taken out of context,' spokeswoman says Ex-federal prosecutor: I would have 'owned' wearing a wire to record Trump Ex-federal prosecutor: 'Thank God' Whitaker is gone, Barr will bring 'integrity' back to DOJ MORE in 2017 caused such concern among law enforcement that officials began probing if Trump was secretly carrying out anti-American agendas on behalf of Russia.

“Your insistence on secrecy related to these interactions, even with your own staff, is alarming, unprecedented, and could be in violation of the Presidential Records Act and Federal Records Act,” Menendez and Reed told Trump in their letter Wednesday.

“[W]e believe it to be in the national security interests of the United States that any record of these conversations be preserved and immediately provided to Congress.” 

The White House has regularly argued that Trump has taken a tougher stance on Russia than some of his predecessors.

The Trump administration has imposed sanctions on Kremlin officials and suggested it may withdraw from a landmark nuclear pact.

But the president has often adopted flattering rhetoric toward Putin, further alarming some lawmakers on Capitol Hill amid probes into ties between his campaign and Russia in 2016.

The president has maintained there was no collusion during the 2016 race and slammed special counsel Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE’s investigation into such claims as a “witch hunt.”

-Updated 7:24 p.m.