Amid criticism against Donald Trump's comments in his press conference with Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, some lawmakers are seeking to call one particular official to Congress. Trump's interpreter, Marina Gross, has had attention turned to her as frustration over what Trump and Putin talked about grows.
If summoned by Congress, Gross — the only other American in the room with Trump and Putin during the meeting — may have to reveal the private details of the discussion between both leaders. According to a former interpreter for previous presidents, summoning an interpreter to detail information about closed-doors meetings between the president and another leader would be unprecedented. Harry Obst, who served seven former presidents as their translator, told USA Today, "It has never happened in American history. And if it hasn't happened in 200 years, there must be a good reason for it."
But those in favor of calling Gross to Capitol Hill say it's because of Trump's actions.
"It may be unprecedented to subpoena a translator to reveal details of a private meeting between the president and another world leader, but Trump’s actions are unprecedented in a way that harms our national security," New Jersey Rep. Bill Pascrell wrote in a letter to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. "Given the public concessions President Trump made to Russian President Vladimir Putin by siding against the U.S. 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," he said.
Pascrell added: "The only way to answer this question is by compelling the American translator to testify publicly."
Pascrell isn't alone in his call for Gross to appear on Capitol Hill. New Hamsphire Sen. Jeanne Shaheen and Massachusetts Rep. Joe Kennedy III have also called on Gross to appear before the Congress and publicly testify about the meeting's content between Trump and Putin. The meeting that took place between both leaders spanned over two hours before they appeared in front of the international press on Monday.
But people like American Translators Association spokeswoman Judy Jenner told The Hill that there are risks in revealing such information. "In general, any information that’s confidential has to remain confidential even if you’re an interpreter. For example, attorney-client confidentiality extends to interpreter," Jenner said. "But as a diplomatic interpreter, you are probably aware of how precarious things could possibly be."
The precarity that Jenner and Obst touch upon may not be enough to compel American lawmakers to put a pause on their calls for Gross. Shaheen, Kennedy III, and Pascrell's contention seems to be rooted in Trump's conduct and how his translator could be a valuable source of information as far as his private meeting with Putin is concerned.
If she ultimately refuses to come forward on her own accord, Pascrell said that Gross should be subpoenaed.
"I urge you to subpoena the U.S. translator so the American people can get more insight into the dangerous, jaw-dropping performance we saw from Trump in Helsinki," Pascrell said. It's clear from the looks of his letter that the New Jersey representative is serious about learning what happened between Trump and Putin behind those closed doors.