GOP rejects effort to force release of documents about private Trump-Putin meeting

GOP rejects effort to force release of documents about private Trump-Putin meeting
© Greg Nash

House Republicans on Thursday rejected a push by Democrats to obtain documents from the administration about President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump rallies in Nevada amid Supreme Court flurry: 'We're gonna get Brett' Trump: 'Good news' that Obama is campaigning again Trump boosts Heller, hammers 'Wacky Jacky' opponent in Nevada MORE’s one-on-one summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin. 

Democrats on the House Foreign Affairs Committee rallied behind a resolution that would have directed the executive branch to send to Congress “copies of all documents, records, communications, transcripts, summaries, notes, memoranda, and read-aheads” related to Trump’s July summit with Putin in Helsinki. 

Rep. Brendan Boyle (D-Pa.) introduced the measure as a “resolution of inquiry,” which under House rules must be considered by a committee within 14 legislative days, or else its sponsors can force a vote on the House floor. 

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Lawmakers on the committee voted along party lines to reject the effort Thursday afternoon. 

Trump endured a barrage of criticism, including from Republicans, following the summit, during which he appeared to cast doubt on the U.S. intelligence community’s assessment about Russian election interference at a press conference alongside Putin. The president later walked back the remarks, saying he misspoke.

Trump’s one-on-one meeting with Putin, conducted behind closed doors with only an interpreter present, has generated intrigue as the White House and other administration officials have said little about the discussions. 

Dan CoatsDaniel (Dan) Ray CoatsDem lawmakers slam Trump’s declassification of Russia documents as ‘brazen abuse of power’ Nunes: Russia probe documents should be released before election The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by Better Medicare Alliance — Cuomo wins and Manafort plea deal MORE, Trump’s top intelligence official, has confessed that he doesn’t know the details of what occurred.

Democrats argued Thursday that the resolution was necessary to obtain information about the promises Trump may have made to Putin during the meeting.

“This meeting could have profound foreign policy implications and the president has already built a track record of giving away concessions with nothing in return,” said Boyle.

“Here we are 60 days after the Helsinki summit and we still don’t know what President Trump said or committed to,” Boyle said.

But Chairman Ed RoyceEdward (Ed) Randall RoyceOvernight Defense: Latest on Korea talks | Trump says summit results 'very exciting!' | Congress to get Space Force plan in February | Trump asked CIA about silent bombs Poll: House GOP candidate leads in California swing district Overnight Defense: Congress reaches deal preventing shutdown | Pentagon poised to be funded on time for first time in years | House GOP rejects effort to get Putin summit documents MORE (R-Calif.), who has been critical of Trump’s performance in Helsinki, argued that the resolution would set a bad precedent for any president’s future foreign policy efforts and infringe on executive privilege. 

“I strongly disagree with the president’s remarks in Helsinki. Vladimir Putin is not our friend and there is simply no comparing the actions of the United States with those of Putin’s Russia,” Royce said. “Ultimately, Helsinki was a squandered opportunity to challenge Vladimir Putin’s false narratives on issues like Ukraine and Syria and ongoing interference in our democracy.” 

Royce argued, though, that the resolution “has implications far beyond our current president or our last president. It is about the ability of any president to engage with foreign leaders.”

The vote took place Thursday afternoon, shortly before lawmakers left Washington for a weeklong break.