Sen. Bob Corker, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said Thursday he has decided it is not appropriate to ask for the translator’s notes from the one-on-one Helsinki meeting between President Donald Trump and Russia President Vladimir Putin.
“We looked into it deeply in our office … I’m sorry,” he told reporters on Capitol Hill. “I know you guys will probably give me hell over it. … In many cases, translators, when we go to other countries, these translators are contract translators.”
He continued: “I know in this particular case, the person was a direct employee, but if we are going to start getting translator’s notes, I think we are moving to a precedent that – unless some crime has been committed – is unprecedented and just not appropriate.”
Corker’s comments come after news of Trump and Putin’s private discussion on Monday left lawmakers on both sides of the aisle uneasy after Trump came out publicly Monday and said Putin was convincing in his denial that Russia meddled in the US election. Trump has since tried to walk his comments back.
Earlier this week, Corker said he was looking into whether it is appropriate to ask the translator from the one-on-one meeting with Putin to testify or turn over her notes from the summit.
“Look, all of us want to know what took place in this meeting,” Corker said Wednesday. “We’re looking into precedent there. … These are notes taken by translators, you understand in a meeting. I’m not sure it’s even appropriate. We’re checking that. If it is, certainly we’ll pursue it.”
On Thursday, Corker also said he spoke with Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, a Democrat from New Hampshire, who had proposed the idea of bringing the translator before Congress.
“I’ve told some of the members, I know Jeanne Shaheen, I talked to her yesterday on the floor, other members have brought it up,” he said. “I’ve told them that I’m open if you can share with me that you don’t believe that this is really breaking a long-standing precedent and moving into executive privilege, I am glad to reconsider.”
He also said the first step will just be to have Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visit Capitol Hill, adding he talked to some Democratic colleagues on the floor Wednesday about this.