Three House Democratic committee chairman on Monday formally demanded interviews with any translators who witnessed President Trump’s communications with Russian President Vladimir Putin since Inauguration Day — a request that comes as part of a sweeping series of inquiries virtually certain to be met with legal pushback by the White House.
In a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Intelligence Committee chairman Adam Schiff, Foreign Affairs Committee chairman Eliot Engel, and Oversight Committee chairman Elijah Cummings said they wanted to know whether any Trump-Putin communications had led to the “reconsideration, modification, or implementation” of any aspect of American foreign policy.
The chairmen are specifically seeking access to all State Department employees and contractors with knowledge of Trump’s communications with the Russian leader, including “linguists, translators, or interpreters who participated in [sic] attended, or in any way listened in on President Trump’s in-person meetings with President Putin, as well as President Trump’s phone calls with President Putin.”
The top Democrats also said they were interested in knowing whether Trump or anyone acting on his behalf had “failed to create records of, or in any way destroyed, suppressed, mishandled, or otherwise withheld any federal or presidential records” contrary to federal laws.
The Washington Post reported in January that, following his meeting with Putin in Hamburg, Germany in 2017, Trump took possession of the notes from his own interpreter and instructed the individual not to discuss what had taken place in the meeting with other administration officials.
Trump attended that Putin meeting with then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who has emerged as a vocal critic of the Trump administration since his termination but who has never alleged that anything untoward happened in Hamburg.
The Post also reported that there are no detailed records of Trump’s private meetings with Putin over the past two years, and administration officials have not gotten a full readout from their two-hour, one-on-one meeting in Helsinki, Finland last summer.
California Democratic Rep. Eric Swalwell, on the heels of The Post’s report, accused Trump of having “effectively destroyed” notes from the Helsinki summit, which saw Trump and Putin meeting in private with only their translators present.
Trump told Fox News anchor Jeanine Pirro in January that he would be willing to release a transcript of his talks with Putin in Helsinki if he could, adding, “I don’t care.”
“I’m not keeping anything under wraps. I couldn’t care less,” Trump told Pirro. “I had a conversation like every president does. You sit with the president of various countries. I do it with all countries.”
OPINION: PUTIN ATE TRUMP’S LUNCH IN HELSINKI
Schiff had previewed Monday’s move in January, writing on Twitter: “Last year, we sought to obtain the interpreter’s notes or testimony, from the private meeting between Trump and Putin. The Republicans on our committee voted us down. Will they join us now? Shouldn’t we find out whether our president is really putting ‘America first?’”
The president’s reported decision to ask an interpreter not to share details of his meetings with foreign leaders with other members of the administration could have been a response to prior leaks of Trump’s private conversations with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and then-Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto in 2017.
CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP
When asked about the president’s alleged directions to the interpreter in January, Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway said that “the president was suffering from leaks,” noting the released details from his calls with the Australian and Mexican leaders.
Aside from Monday’s request for translator interviews, House Democrats opened another huge new avenue Monday in their investigations into Trump, with the chairman of the Judiciary Committee firing off document requests to dozens of figures from the president’s administration, family and business.
Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., said Monday the committee served document requests to 81 agencies, entities and individuals, as part of a new probe into “alleged obstruction of justice, public corruption, and other abuses of power by President Trump.”
Fox News’ Brooke Singman and Alex Pappas contributed to this report.