US lawmakers demand Trump-Putin communications by March 15
Three key House chairmen are giving the White House until March 15 to turn over all communications between US President Donald Trump and his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, regardless of their classifications.
The leaders of the House Intelligence, Foreign Affairs, and Oversight committees demanded the information in a joint request on Monday.
White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo should, therefore, hand over “all documents and communications, regardless of form and classification, that refer or relate to any communications between President Trump and President Putin, including in-person meetings and telephone calls.”
Sponsored by Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff, Foreign Affairs Chairman Eliot Engel, and Oversight Chairman Elijah Cummings, the initiative came at a time that the Democratic-held House of Representatives was launching sweeping investigations into Trump’s affairs.
Ever since Trump was inaugurated in January 2017, the US intelligence community has overwhelmingly maintained that Moscow sought to meddle in the 2016 election.
The new request follows reports that Trump tried to hide notes and other information about his one-on-one talks with Putin.
“These allegations, if true, raise profound national security, counterintelligence, and foreign policy concerns, especially in light of Russia’s ongoing active measures campaign to improperly influence American elections,” read the letters separately sent to Mulvaney and Pompeo.
The White House and the State Department were also urged to make employees with knowledge of the Trump-Putin talks available for interviews.
The White House has not yet reacted to the demand but a State Department spokesperson was quoted by Politico as saying: “We will work cooperatively with the committees and seek to be as timely and responsive as possible to their requests for information.”
Trump has backed the Russian leader’s denial of alleged meddling in the 2016 presidential election despite the American intelligence community’s assessment.
The Trump campaign is also accused of collusion with the Kremlin to find damaging information on his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton.
Russia has denied meddling in the election as well as being in possession of any damaging information on the US president.