Republicans block Democrat attempt to subpoena Trump interpreter

PHOTO: President Donald Trump meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Presidential Palace in Helsinki, Finland, July 16, 2018. In picture at left is seen US interpreter Marina Gross.PlayAlexey Nikolsky/Sputnik/Kremlin/EPA/Rex/Shutterstock
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Republicans blocked an attempt Thursday morning to subpoena the interpreter who sat in on President Donald Trump’s one-on-one meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, Finland on Monday.

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Rep. Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, joined with fellow California Democratic Rep. Eric Swalwell to make a motion to subpoena Marina Gross, a State Department official.

PHOTO: Rep. Devin Nunes leaves the House Republican Conference meeting in the Capitol, Feb. 27, 2018.Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call via Newscom
Rep. Devin Nunes leaves the House Republican Conference meeting in the Capitol, Feb. 27, 2018.

While the motion was made at a hearing titled, “China’s threat to American government and private sector research and innovation leadership,” Schiff justified his request by recounting that President Trump had a “disastrous summit with Vladimir in Helsinki.”

“One of the issues that’s come about as a result of the public comments he has made during that summit is what took place in the private two-hour meeting that the president had alone with Mr. Putin,” he said. “It appears there were commitments made in that meeting that affect American national security interests.”

Schiff’s motion specified that the interpreter would be subpoenaed to testify in closed session before the House Intelligence committee.

“I regret that we have to raise this at today’s hearing,” Schiff said, adding that his request for a business meeting was rejected.

“As you know, Mr. Schiff, this is a hearing, and the only motion you can make is a motion to adjourn,” Chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif., responded.

“This is an extraordinary remedy, I realize,” Schiff countered, repeating his motion. “But then it’s extraordinary for the president of the United States to ask all of his senior staff essentially to leave the room and have a private conversation with an adversary.”

PHOTO: Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee speaks during a news conference about President Donald Trumps meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin at Capitol Hill, July 17, 2018. Jose Luis Magana/AP
Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee speaks during a news conference about President Donald Trump's meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin at Capitol Hill, July 17, 2018.

“I think this remedy is warranted,” Schiff stressed.

After Nunes ruled that Schiff’s motion was out of order, Schiff repeatedly appealed the ruling of the chair – requesting a committee vote on the ruling. Nunes then recessed the hearing for about 15 minutes, when he recognized Schiff again to offer his motion.

Schiff once again repeated his motion, and Rep. Mike Conaway, R-Texas, moved to table Schiff’s motion.

After a brief roll call vote down that fell along party lines, Schiff’s motion was successfully tabled 11-6, squashing the effort.

Senate Democrats are also exploring ways to hear from the interpreter and have demanded the Trump administration turn over all the "contemporaneous notes" taken during the meeting.

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