As President Donald Trump prepares for another potential meeting with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, Congress is pressuring the White House to provide documents from their prior conversations.
Rep. Elijah Cummings, who chairs the House committee on Oversight and Government reform, told White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney in a letter on Monday that he expects all available documents and information about Trump’s meeting with Putin last summer to be provided to the committee by July 8. Should the White House not comply, they could face a Congressional subpoena.
Cummings’ requests include information about how Trump tried to preserve the notes from the translator at the meeting in Hamburg, Germany in 2017 and if he attempted to destroy them. He wants to know who currently possesses the notes from the meeting and if a copy has been provided to the State Department and which officials were given summaries of readouts from Trump and Putin’s meetings over the last two years.
The Washington Post reported in January that Trump had hidden the details of the meeting and obtained the notes from the translator, which could be a violation of the Presidential Records Act. The committee is also requesting a transcribed interview with the Director of the White House Office of Records Management to discuss compliance with that law.
Cummings noted that all of these requests were made in a letter he and Reps. Adam Schiff and Eliot Engel —– who chair the intelligence and foreign affairs committees — sent last February, but that the response from White House Counsel Pat Cipollone was insufficient.
“The Presidential Records Act is at the core of the Oversight Committee’s legislative and oversight jurisdiction, and I had hoped the White House would cooperate voluntarily with this inquiry,” Cummings wrote. “Instead the White House has disregarded these legitimate congressional inquiries and dissembled about basic facts.”
The White House did not immediately respond to request for comment.
The request comes as Trump heads to the G20 summit in Osaka Japan – nearly two years to the day after the Hamburg meeting Trump reportedly tried to destroy the notes from. Trump told NBC News on Sunday that there was a possibility he would talk to Putin about Russia’s attempts to interfere in the upcoming presidential election. “If you’d like me to do it, I’ll do that,” he said.
The White House is also facing legal pressure to produce some of these documents. Two progressive watchdog organizations, American Oversight and Democracy Forward, filed a lawsuit earlier this month alleging that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo violated the Presidential Records Act by allowing Trump to take the notes from his meeting with Putin at Hamburg. The groups are also suing David Ferriero, the United States Archivist, for the same reason.
Correction June 25: the original version of this article misstated the lawsuit that was brought against Mike Pompeo. He was sued based on allegations that he violated the Federal Records Act, not the Presidential Records Act.
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