Shaheen calls for congressional hearings on Trump’s meeting with Putin

  • U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, along with fellow Senate Foreign Relations Committee members Robert Menendez of New Jersey and Ben Cardin of Maryland and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York called for Congressional hearings into Trump's meeting with Putin.

  • Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., (center left) joins (from left) Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md.; Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.; and Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., during a news conference on Capitol Hill on Tuesday, July 17, 2018. The Senators criticized President Donald Trump and his summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, Finland, on Monday. AP

For the Monitor
Published: 7/17/2018 6:09:54 PM

Sen. Jeanne Shaheen joined three of her Democratic colleagues Tuesday in calling for congressional hearings into President Donald Trump’s one-on-one meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

New Hampshire’s senior U.S. senator said the American translator who was present during Monday’s Trump-Putin summit in Helsinki, Finland, should testify at the hearing “to determine what was specifically discussed and agreed to on the United States’ behalf.”

Shaheen, along with fellow Senate Foreign Relations Committee members Robert Menendez of New Jersey and Ben Cardin of Maryland and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York, spoke on Capitol Hill minutes before the president attempted to “clarify” his public undermining of American intelligence agencies.

Trump, speaking at the White House prior to the start of a meeting with lawmakers, said he misspoke the previous day when he said during a news conference with Putin that he saw no reason to believe Russia had interfered in the 2016 U.S. election.

Blistered by bipartisan condemnation of his embrace of Putin, Trump reversed course. Reading from a prepared statement, he said “I accept our intelligence community’s conclusion that Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election took place.”

But then the president immediately appeared to contradict what he had just said, adding as he has in the past that the election meddling “could be other people also.”

“A lot of people out there. There was no collusion at all,” he said.

Shaheen and her fellow Democrats called for U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and other top officials to appear before Congress and recount exactly what happened during Trump’s two-hour private session with Putin.

Shaheen specifically brought up the idea of calling on the translator to testify.

“I believe the Senate Foreign Relations Committee should hold a hearing with the American translator who was present during President Trump and President Putin’s private meeting,” Shaheen said. “That translator is an official of the U.S. government. It is imperative that the American people and this Congress know precisely what the president shared or promised the Kremlin on our behalf.”

“Yesterday’s events make it explicitly clear that Congress must exert its authority to be a check on the presidency,” she added.

It’s not clear whether the Senate Republican majority leadership would embrace such hearings. Democrats are the minority party in the Senate – as well as the House of Representatives – and have little leverage to push their priorities.

Trump has faced a chorus of intense criticism from Democrats as well as many Republicans in Congress since he made his comments Monday.

Shaheen charged that Trump took Putin’s side over his own intelligence advisers.

“President Trump handed global leadership and stature free of charge to Vladimir Putin, to a man who brutally murders his own citizens who disagree with him,” Shaheen said. “It was disgraceful to watch President Trump side with Putin over the men and women of our intelligence community, over the FBI who are working to protect our nation from Putin’s aggression.”

Shaheen added that “President Trump owes them an apology, and going forward he owes them his unwavering support.”

Standing alongside Putin on Monday, Trump steered clear of any confrontation with the Russian leader, going so far as to question American intelligence and last week’s federal indictments that accuse 12 Russians of hacking into Democratic email accounts to hurt Hillary Clinton in 2016.

“I have great confidence in my intelligence people, but I will tell you that President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today,” Trump said Monday.

“He just said it’s not Russia. I will say this: I don’t see any reason why it would be,” Trump said.

That’s the part he amended on Tuesday.

“The sentence should have been, ‘I don’t see any reason why I wouldn’t, or why it wouldn’t be Russia” instead of “why it would,” Trump said, in a rare admission of error.

(Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.)



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