Evidence is growing that Donald Trump has something to hide, something that must be huge. The Washington Post reports Trump ‘went to extraordinary lengths’ to hide all records of communications between Putin and Trump, even taking possession of interpreter Marina Gross’ notes after a meeting with Putin in Hamburg and instructing her not to reveal the contents of the discussion to anyone, not even senior White House officials. His behavior around Putin has been increasingly suspicious, especially around the disastrous press conference in Helsinki in which Trump embarrassed the United States on the world stage with his full submission and ass-kissing of the former KBG chief. And that wasn’t the only time he moved to conceal his discussions with Putin.
It is not clear whether Trump has taken notes from interpreters on other occasions, but several officials said they were never able to get a reliable readout of the president’s two-hour meeting in Helsinki. Unlike in Hamburg, Trump allowed no Cabinet officials or any aides to be in the room for that conversation.
Trump also had other private conversations with Putin at meetings of global leaders outside the presence of aides. He spoke at length with Putin at a banquet at the same 2017 global conference in Hamburg, where only Putin’s interpreter was present. Trump also had a brief conversation with Putin at a Group of 20 summit in Buenos Aires last month.
Why would Trump be taking such meetings and insisting on going solo? Why did Donald Trump physically take possession of the interpreter’s notes and what happened to those notes? Were they destroyed? If so, who did it? If not, where are they?
Congress should immediately launch an investigation and although it would be highly unusual, interpreter Marina Gross should be called to testify as to the what was said in that meeting. It’s not in the interests of the United States to conceal these conversations from State Department and White House officials.
Let’s flashback to the first Trump-Putin face-to-face in Hamburg, where Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin had a secret meeting after the formal G20 dinner, a secret meeting that wasn’t initially reported to the press. Trump attended the meeting alone, relying solely on Putin’s own interpreter with no American interpreter or State Department official attending. Prior to that meeting, a desperate Trump was captured on video sending Putin unmistakeable hand signals—You and me, buddy—we are in this together. Ride or die, Vlad! Watch as Angela Merkel practically gets whiplash looking to see how Putin responds to Trump’s overtures. Remember, this is the first time Trump and Putin came face-to-face after he was elected.
If those actions weren’t concerning enough, the Trump administration’s follow-up actions are equally concerning. From the Ukrainian platform to lifting sanctions on Russian oligarchs, Trump has time and time again given Putin exactly what he wanted. Why? What has the United States gotten in return? Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) appeared on ABC’s “This Week” to say he has serious concerns, concerns that have been stonewalled and buried by a Republican-controlled Senate and specifically by Sen. Lindsey Graham, who has the power to investigate but refuses to do so.
And if you think Lindsey Graham is going to do the right thing and move to have Grosstestify about those Putin meetings, well you just don’t know Lindsey Graham. When asked if he would call Gross, he says, “Absolutely not.”
These are extraordinary times and they call for extraordinary measures. The time to act is now. RIGHT NOW. Those are the thoughts of former U.S Intelligence and law enforcement officials, including David Laufman, former chief of the National Security Division’s Counterintelligence and Export Control Section at the Department of Justice. He he this to say when the bombshell story of Trump concealing conversations with Putin broke yesterday.
NOW is the time. What will it take for Republicans to finally start putting their country over their insatiable need to cling to power?