Democrats demand Trump hand over notes of his one-one-one meetings with Vladimir Putin on the eve of yet another potential sit-down
- House Oversight Chairman Rep. Elijah Cummings pressed the White House after an earlier information request
- He pushed the White House on ‘troubling reports’ Trump destroyed records of notes on Putin meeting
- A Trump-Putin meeting is possible in Japan later this week
- Trump told NBC he ‘may’ raise election interference with Putin
- Asks if Trump destroyed notes of 2017 Hamburg summit with Putin
- Democrats want to interview White House records official on compliance
House Democrats are re-upping their demand that the White House hand over all notes of meetings between President Trump and Vladimir Putin – and pressing for confirmation of whether the president destroyed a written record of a one-on-one interaction.
House Government Reform and Oversight Chairman Rep. Elijah Cummings issued the demand to the White House after an earlier information request failed to get the information he is seeking. He has complained that the White House has been stonewalling an array of requests for information.
He is pushing the issue as Trump prepares for a possible one-on-one meeting with the Russian president at a gathering of world leaders for the G-20 in Osaka, Japan at the end of the week.
‘WHY DO YOU TAKE NOTES?’ Oversight Committee Democrats want to know if a press report is accurate that President Trump took away the notes of the translator for his Hamburg meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin
Cummings in a letter demanded to know ‘why the White House has failed to answer the questions raised in a letter I sent more than three months ago seeking information about troubling reports that President Donald Trump may have violated the Presidential Records Act by confiscating and destroying documents to keep secret the details of his meetings.’
He then asked White House counsel Pat Cipollone a series of questions about the Trump-Putin meeting in Hamburg, Germany in 2017.
The Washington Post reported earlier this year that following the meeting Trump took away his interpreters notes and told him not to talk about what happened with others, including other U.S. government officials.
‘The Presidential Records Act is at the core of the Oversight Committee’s legislative and oversight jurisdiction, and I had hoped that the White House would cooperate voluntarily with this inquiry,’ Cummings wrote Cippolone, who has also penned letters denying House Judiciary Committee requests to make key officials available for its Mueller report inquiry.
LOST TRANSLATION: Russian President Vladimir Putin may sit down with Trump again in Osaka, Japan
Democratic Representative from Maryland and Chairman of the House Oversight Committee Elijah Cummings has unloaded on the White House for refusing his requests for information
UNTIL WE MEET AGAIN: President Donald Trump (L) and Russia’s President Vladimir Putin pose ahead a meeting in Helsinki, on July 16, 2018
‘Instead, the White House has disregarded these legitimate congressional inquiries and dissembled about basic facts. These actions do not serve the interests of the American people, and they obstruct and frustrate the Committee’s review,’ he wrote.
With respect to the Hamburg meeting, Cummings wants to know if Trump took the interpreter’s notes, if the president did ‘alter or destroy’ the notes, who has them, and whether the State Department has a copy.
He also asks an expansive question about whether anyone at the White House has ‘any’ record of a Trump-Putin meeting or call.
Democrats also want to interview White House records official on compliance with the Presidential Records Act.
Trump’s previous White House counsel, Don McGahn, revealed the president’s disdain for a written record in comments featured in the Mueller report.
When Trump saw McGahn taking notes in a meeting, he said: ‘Why do you take notes? Lawyers don’t take notes,’ according to the report. McGahn responded that ‘real lawyers’ take notes, prompting Trump to say his former lawyer Roy Cohn, who advised the late Sen. Joe McCarthy of Wisconsin, ‘did not take notes.’
Trump told NBC’s ‘Meet the Press’ in a Sunday broadcast interview he ‘may’ raise election interference with Putin. At the pair’s Helsinki summit Trump said he accepted Putin’s denials.