WASHINGTON — Republicans on the House Foreign Affairs Committee blocked an effort by committee Democrats to compel the Trump administration to turn over for review all notes and documents connected to July’s summit in Helsinki between President Trump and Russian President Vladmir Putin.
Putin and Trump met alone for two hours with just translators present, and Democrats have said getting access to the U.S. translator’s notes can help piece together what was said between the two leaders.
“We are elected to public office to put people before politics and serve our country. Moreover, under our constitution, it is the role of Congress, the legislative branch, to oversee the executive branch,” said resolution sponsor Rep. Brendan Buck (R-Pa.). “Nonetheless, yet again today, House Republicans chose to duck these responsibilities and continue to bury their heads in the sand when it comes to President Trump’s cozy relationship with Vladimir Putin.”
The resolution stated that Congress requests the administration “transmit to the House of Representatives copies of all documents, records, communications, transcripts, summaries, notes, memoranda, and read-aheads in their possession referring or relating to certain communications between President Donald Trump and President Vladimir Putin.”
Committee GOPs unanimously shot down the resolution of inquiry on a party-line vote Thursday.
Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-Calif.) said at the markup that the resolution “clearly intrudes into judicially recognized areas of executive privilege, and would likely require years of contested – and ultimately fruitless – litigation.”
“This resolution would set a dangerous and harmful precedent with respect to presidential communications,” Royce said, stressing that he “strongly disagreed with the president’s remarks in Helsinki.”
“Vladimir Putin is not our friend. And there is simply no comparing the actions of the United States with those of Putin’s Russia. Ultimately, Helsinki was a squandered opportunity to challenge Vladimir Putin’s false narratives on issues including Ukraine, Syria and Russia’s ongoing interference in our democracy,” he added. “So I understand the interest in these issues. I’m sure this resolution is a popular idea in some political circles. But, ultimately, it is not a wise approach to oversight.”
Boyle said after the measure failed to make it out of committee that “the bizarre press conference” aside, “it is Trump and Putin’s secretive one-on-one meeting in Helsinki behind closed doors that is especially concerning given Putin’s role interfering in our elections, his ongoing threat to our allies, and President Trump’s failure to confront these concerns with the response they merit.”
“We all know what happened after the summit: President Trump declared on the world stage that he believed Putin over the U.S. intelligence agencies, providing Putin the propaganda of his dreams,” he said. “Thanks to Republicans’ unwillingness to protect our country from Russia’s aggression, we will never know what happened during.”