'Absolutely Not': GOP Says Questioning Trump's Translator Would End Presidential Diplomacy
July 19, 2018
Republicans in Congress rejected calls from the Democrats to summon President Donald Trump’s translator from the Helsinki summit, saying it would block future presidential diplomatic efforts.
Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina), a frequent critic of the president, said he would “absolutely not” support having the translator testify before Congress, arguing it would have a chilling effect on future presidential meetings.
“That would be the last time you ever have a foreign leader meet with a president of the US privately,” he told Politico.
“I can’t imagine how that would affect future presidents in terms of their ability to talk to foreign leaders.”
Senator Bob Corker (R-Tennessee), chair of the Foreign Relations Committee and another Trump critic, said that summoning the translator and demanding her notes would set a bad precedent.
“If we are going to start getting translator’s notes, I think we are moving to a precedent that – unless some crime has been committed – is unprecedented and just not appropriate,” Corker said on Thursday.
Following Monday’s meeting between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, Democrats insinuated that the US president could not be trusted and demanded to get an account of his two-hour meeting with Putin from the translator, who was identified as Marina Gross.
Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-New Hampshire), wanted the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to summon Gross “to determine what was specifically discussed and agreed to on the US behalf.”
Representatives Adam Schiff and Eric Swalwell, Democrats from California, pushed for Gross to be summoned before the House Intelligence Committee as well, but their proposal was shot down by the Republican majority.
Senate Republicans did, however, join the Democrats in unanimously denouncing Putin’s Helsinki proposal to grant US and Russian prosecutors access to suspects under a 1999 treaty.
The Senate unanimously adopted the proposal by Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York), expressing the sense that,
“[T]he United States should refuse to make available any current or former diplomat, civil servant, political appointee, law enforcement official or member of the Armed Forces of the United States for questioning by the government or Vladimir Putin."
Putin’s proposal would have enabled Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s prosecutors to speak with Russians they’ve accused of hacking during the 2016 US presidential election, in exchange for Russian investigators questioning US officials, such as former ambassador to Moscow Michael McFaul and businessman Bill Browder, who is suspected of financial misdeeds in Russia.