- Kevin Lamarque/Reuters
- In the wake of President Donald Trump’s controversial summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Democratic members of Congress have called for the interpreter who sat in on the private, two-hour meeting with the two world leaders to answer questions.
- Her name is Marina Gross and she has worked as a translator for the State Department for years.
- Gross was the only other American in the room when Trump spoke privately with Putin.
- Trump has reportedly gone to extreme lengths to hide the details of his conversations with Putin from senior administration officials.
In the wake of President Donald Trump’s controversial summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin in July, Democratic members of Congress have called for the interpreter who sat in on the private, two-hour meeting with the two world leaders to answer questions.
Her name is Marina Gross.
Following a bombshell report from the Washington Post over the weekend that said Trump has gone to “extraordinary lengths” to conceal details of his conversations with Putin from senior officials in his administration, there are renewed calls for Gross to testify before lawmakers.
Gross, a translator for the State Department, can be seen sitting near Trump in images of the Helsinki, Finland meeting. Putin also had an interpreter at the meeting.
Gross has worked as a translator for the government for years, at least as far back as 2008 when she accompanied former First Lady Laura Bush to Sochi, Russia as her interpreter. She was also seen alongside former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in Moscow in April 2017.
President Trump does have his own interpreter in the room for the Putin meeting, a White House official tells me. It's Marina Gross, who has previously translated for the State Department and former first lady Laura Bush. pic.twitter.com/xcYvbj0UYk
— Kaitlan Collins (@kaitlancollins) July 16, 2018
Trump’s flip-flop on Russian election meddling
The decision to meet with Putin alone was broadly criticized, as the president’s opponents felt he could not be trusted to speak privately with the Russian leader.
This view has been compounded by Trump’s performance during a press conference with Putin in which he appeared to side with the Russian leader over the US intelligence community on the subject of Russian election interference. At the time, Trump said he didn’t see “any reason” why Russia would interfere in the US electoral process, contradicting conclusions from US intelligence agencies as well as recent statements from Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats.
Trump later walked back on this after he’d returned to the US, stating he agreed with the US intelligence community’s assessment that Russia meddled in the 2016 US presidential election. The president claimed he’d misspoke during the infamous press conference.
Trump: "Let me be totally clear in saying that, and I've said this many times, I accept our intelligence community's conclusion that Russia's meddling in the 2016 election took place. Could be other people also. There's a lot of people out there." pic.twitter.com/BCbNHuM48F
— Axios (@axios) July 17, 2018
‘Ms. Marina Gross was the only other American in the room’
Two Democratic lawmakers in July called for Gross to be interviewed before Congress in relation to the Trump-Putin meeting in Helsinki.
Democratic Rep. Bill Pascrell of New Jersey wrote a letter to Republican Rep. Trey Gowdy and Democratic Rep. Elijah Cummings, the Chairman and Ranking Member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, demanding the committee hear public testimony from Gross on the meeting.
“Given the public concessions” Trump made to Putin “by siding against the US intelligence community, law enforcement, and our military officials about Russia’s attack on our democracy, Congress and the American public deserve to know the details of their private conversation,” Pascrell said in the letter. “Serving as a translator, it has been reported that Ms. Marina Gross was the only other American in the room and so the sole reliable witness to the conversation between the two world leaders.”
Meanwhile, Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, also called for the committee to bring Gross forward to testify on the meeting.
“I believe the Senate Foreign Relations Committee should hold a hearing with the American translator who was present during President Trump and President Putin’s private meeting to determine what was specifically discussed and agreed to on the United State’s behalf,” Shaheen said.
House Republicans blocked initial attempts to subpoena Gross in July. But Democrats are floating the idea once again after The Post’s report on Trump’s alleged attempts to hide the records of his conversations with the Russian president.
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff on Sunday tweeted, “Last year, we sought to obtain the interpreter’s notes or testimony, from the private meeting between Trump and Putin. The Republicans on our committee voted us down. Will they join us now? Shouldn’t we find out whether our president is really putting America first?”
This also came after a report from The New York Times alleged the FBI had opened an investigation into whether Trump was an agent for Russia in response to his controversial firing of former FBI Director James Comey. The president railed against the report via Twitter over the weekend.