- Democrats want to bring in for a hearing Marina Gross, the woman who interpreted President Trump’s private conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
- Republicans worry that it would set a bad precedent of hauling in interpreters, some of whom are contract workers.
- Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is scheduled to testify in front of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee next week.
WASHINGTON – After some Democratic lawmakers called for a hearing to question the American interpreter who sat in on President Donald Trump’s nearly two hour-long meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, the proposal appears to be going nowhere.
Marina Gross interpreted Russian spoken by Putin for Trump. Including Putin’s English translator, she was just one of four individuals in the room and the only American other than Trump. The secrecy surrounding the meeting has prompted Democrats to demand answers about the private conversation between the two leaders.
New Hampshire Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, a Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said the panel “should hold a hearing with the American interpreter who was present during President Trump and President Putin’s private meeting to determine what was specifically discussed and agreed to on the United States’ behalf.”
Shaheen was not the only one. New Jersey Rep. Bill Pascrell sent a letter to House Oversight Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy asking to bring in Gross, “given the public concessions” made by Trump. And the idea gained traction among Democrats on Capitol Hill.
Massachusetts Rep. Joe Kennedy followed Shaheen and Pascrell, as did the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s ranking member, Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey.
“We want the interpreter to come before the committee. We want to see the notes. We’re gonna have a massive effort to try to get to what happened,” Menendez said during an appearance on MSNBC Wednesday morning.
Trump’s “translator should come before Congress and testify as to what was said privately immediately,” Kennedy wrote on Twitter. “If Republicans are as outraged as they claim, then issue the subpoena today.”
Republicans worry about precedent
Key Republicans say hauling in an interpreter would set a dangerous precedent for bilateral meetings with foreign officials and leaders.
“It would be unprecedented,” Sen. Bob Corker told Business Insider. “You got to remember these interpreters sometimes, they’re not policy people, they are in some cases contract folks. In the future would any notes even be allowed to be taken if you started doing this kind of thing?”
Corker, who chairs the Foreign Relations Committee and has been a frequent critic of Trump, added that the best person to hear from is Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who is scheduled to testify next Wednesday.
Corker was not the only Republican worried about what could happen if interpreters are brought in to testify in open committee hearings. Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said he is “not particularly” interested in hearing from Gross and that he would rather get the lowdown from Pompeo, who was not in the room.
“We’re not going to go and start having interpreters in private meetings come out to testify,” Graham said. “But what I do want to know from Pompeo is whether or not any agreements were reached.”
Alabama Sen. Richard Shelby said he would be open to the idea, but stressed that it just is not realistic.
“Sure I’d be curious to do that. Everybody would,” Shelby told Business Insider. “But then you would probably set a precedent and cause problems in the future with any president. That’s what you got to look at.”
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