On Thursday, Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee tried to subpoena the interpreter from Trump’s private meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, but were defeated by Republicans in an 11-6 vote along party lines.
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) called for the vote, saying, “This is an extraordinary remedy, I realize, but then it’s extraordinary for the president of the United States to ask all of his senior staff essentials to leave the room and have a conversation with an adversary and then in a public conversation disavow his own intelligence agencies and in many respects disavow his own country.”
The interpreter, a State Department employee named Marina Gross, was the only other person from the U.S. delegation to attend Trump’s private meeting with Putin on Monday, which lasted over 90 minutes. Putin also had his own translator in attendance. No one else attended the meeting between the two leaders.
It was after this private meeting that Trump and Putin held a joint press conference where Trump refused to condemn Russia’s role interfering in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, prompting criticism from Democrats and Republicans alike.
Democrats began calling for Trump’s Russian-language interpreter to testify before Congress on Tuesday, expressing their outrage on social media.
“I’m calling for a hearing with the U.S. interpreter who was present during President Trump’s meeting with Putin to uncover what they discussed privately. This interpreter can help determine what @POTUS shared/promised Putin on our behalf,” Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) tweeted on Tuesday.
Rep. Joe Kennedy III (D-Mass.) agreed, tweeting, “[Trump’s] translator should come before Congress and testify as to what was said privately immediately. If Republicans are as outraged as they claim, then issue the subpoena today.”
While the bipartisan criticisms about Trump’s comments in Helsinki have merit, subpoenaing a translator to testify about highly-classified talks is unethical. The translator’s job and her ethical duty is to simply translate what was said in Russian to English. Based on Thursday’s vote, Republicans understand that.