House Foreign Affairs Chair Releases Sunday Trump/Putin Statement

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The newly Democratic majority House continues to exercise its investigative power as the Trump administration drags on. They’ve already indicated they’d jumpstart the previously shuttered House Intelligence Committee investigation into Russia’s ties to the Trump team, and now, there’s yet another committee on board. House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) has announced that his committee will be taking up the matter of the personal relationship of President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

As he put it:

‘Every time Trump meets with Putin, the country is told nothing. America deserves the truth and the Foreign Affairs Committee will seek to get to the bottom of it. We will be holding hearings on the mysteries swirling around Trump’s bizarre relationship with Putin and his cronies, and how those dark dealings affect our national security.’

The revelation comes as The Washington Post reports that Trump has gone to obsessive lengths to keep his face-to-face meetings with Putin secretive.

After a 2017 meeting at the G20 summit of world leaders in Hamburg, for instance, the president reportedly seized his interpreter’s notes and told them not to share any details of what they’d witnessed. That reportedly came out when administration officials sought such details while the U.S. delegation was still overseas.

In the time since that meeting, Trump has met with Putin again at a summit in Helsinki organized for the sole purpose of bringing the two leaders together. They met privately with only interpreters present, and although Trump’s interpreter┬áMarina Gross was spotted with copious notes when it concluded — those have not emerged in any capacity, and Trump has not been keen on offering a play-by-play rundown of what happened. That reluctance stands despite the fact that Putin has carried on with lengthy aggression against the United States including during the 2016 elections — an issue Trump has repeatedly dismissed.

Engel, who is forming a whole subcommittee to handle these matters, has exclaimed:

‘It’s been several months since Helsinki and we still don’t know what went on in that meeting. It’s appalling. It just makes you want to scratch your head.’

Ultimately, thanks to the president’s own efforts, there is “no detailed record, even in classified files,” of any of his meetings with Putin over the last couple of years. What has made it out is troubling. After the Hamburg meeting, for instance, Trump’s interpreter did reportedly privately concede that the president had told Putin he believed his denials of meddling in U.S. elections. Trump did the same publicly after his later meeting with Putin in Helsinki.

Those moments are hardly alone in the saga of the Trump presidency. Trump has again and again dismissed the significance of the Russia scandal and its concurrent investigation as a “witch hunt,” dismissing the probe as recently as this past week as the work of “losers” who “tried to do a number on your president” via a counterintelligence investigation aimed at uncovering whether or not Trump is a Russian agent.

If he really wants to convince people he’s innocent, he’s really, really bad at it.

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