- The Washington Times - Monday, January 14, 2019

Lawyers with the House Intelligence and House Foreign Affairs committees are expected to meet Monday to discuss whether to issue a subpoena for testimony from President Trump’s interpreter at his summit last year with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

A senior aide to Democrats on the Foreign Affairs committee told ABC News that the lawyers are examining issues tied to media allegations that Mr. Trump has sought to block the interpreter from discussing what transpired during the Putin meeting — allegations the president staunchly denies.

The allegations raise “a host of questions,” the Democrat aide told ABC on condition of anonymity Monday.

“We’re looking into the legal implications of that, and we’ll discuss our options,” the aide said. “Our lawyers are sitting down with Intel Committee lawyers to hash it out.”

News of the anticipated meeting comes on the heels of a Washington Post report over the weekend that cited unnamed U.S. officials as claiming Mr. Trump has gone to length to conceal details of his conversations with Mr. Putin — even taking possession of the notes of his interpreter and instructing the linguist not to discuss the meeting with other administration officials.

Mr. Trump staunchly denied the Post report in an interview with Fox News on Saturday night, saying outright that he did not take particular steps to conceal his meeting with Mr. Putin.

House Democrats, however, are eager to push the issue, with the Foreign Affairs Committee already planning to hold hearings on Mr. Trump’s relationship with Mr. Putin.

While Committee Chairman Rep. Eliot Engel, New York Democrat, told CNN Monday that no decision has yet been made on whether a subpoena will be issued for Mr. Trump’s translator, he stressed that committee Democrats want to find out what has been said in private between Mr. Trump and Mr. Putin.

“We all know that the Russians interfered with our 2016 election, and we know they interfered to help Donald Trump win,” Mr. Engel said. “And since that time, there have been meetings between Putin and Trump and we don’t know what went on.

“You just scratch your head and say, ‘what is it?’” he said. “Why is it that the president of the United States seems to diss, go against our allies like the U.K., Germany, France, and cozy up to Putin? … You want to try to improve relations with your adversaries but the question is, why is it so secretive?”

Mr. Trump pushed back anew against the insinuation that he has somehow colluded with or worked secretly with Russian officials.

“I’ve never worked for Russia,” the president told reporters as he walked to Marine One Monday morning to depart for New Orleans, where he will speak to the Farm Bureau. “Not only did I never work for Russia, I think it’s a disgrace you even asked that question because it’s a whole big fat hoax.”

• Lauren Toms can be reached at lmeier@washingtontimes.com.

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