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Sat Jan 12, 2019, 11:19 PM

Can Congress Subpoena The Interpreter From Trump's Putin Meeting? Experts Aren't Sure.

Some constitutional scholars want lawmakers to try anyway.
It's a grey area, and very complex.

This article is from Sept. 2018, before Dems took the House, so that may have changed the equation.

Also, this has changed since Sept. 2018 due to the NYT bombshell:
“To overcome the privilege, Congress must provide an adequate explanation for why it needs to know what was said at the meeting. I don’t see one as of now.”

I'm sure Adam Schiff could show clear need to know at this point, but there would no doubt be court challenges, maybe even all the way to SCOTUS.

(Long snip)

"For all the murkiness about Congress’ ability to compel the president’s interpreter to testify, some legal experts urged lawmakers to push for it anyway.

“I think they should try it,” said Cristina Rodriguez, the Leighton Homer Surbeck professor of law at Yale Law School and a former deputy assistant attorney general in the Office of Legal Counsel at the Department of Justice. “[The administration] might try to claim presidential communications privilege, but that generally refers to consultation with advisers, not to something rote like translation. The more viable channel of resistance would be to invoke the president’s power to conduct diplomacy, which Republican and Democratic administrations alike have regarded as an exclusive presidential prerogative.”

“I strongly favor this effort to subpoena the U.S. interpreter,” said Tribe. “There is a lot to gain and nothing to lose by at least seeking such testimony

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/congress-trump-interpreter-russia-putin_us_5b509f0ce4b0de86f48a8db3

ANd here is another article from July 2018:
Obama, Bush veterans dismiss Trump-Putin interpreter subpoena


Tony Fratto, who served as a White House deputy press secretary under former President George W. Bush, called it a “fruitless effort.”

“The law is clear. It would be bonkers to think this conversation doesn’t fall under executive privilege,” said Fratto, who frequently disagrees with Trump’s rhetoric and actions. “That’s not their job and the Constitution is pretty clear on that.”

Richard Fontaine, who served as a foreign policy adviser to Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and served at the NSC under Bush, also dismissed the suggestion.
“I feel their pain, but I don't think forcing the translator of the president to testify [about] what she heard will be successful,” Fontaine told The Hill, calling it “bad practice.”

“People on the Hill seem to have ever-short historical perspective, but at some point a Democrat will have a one-on-one with a leader or take a walk in the park with a leader and do you really want that?” he said. “I know they want this, but I don't know that they want that.”

Democrats say the circumstances surrounding the Trump-Putin summit are exceptional, and justify the step of having lawmakers talk to Trump’s interpreter.

https://thehill.com/homenews/house/397995-obama-bush-veterans-dismiss-trump-putin-interpreter-subpoena

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Response to Amaryllis (Original post)

Sat Jan 12, 2019, 11:21 PM

1. Note that 'experts' who said no are Republicans

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Response to dalton99a (Reply #1)

Sat Jan 12, 2019, 11:47 PM

7. If you read the article, there are at least as many former Obama people saying the same thing.

So it's not partisan.

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Response to Amaryllis (Original post)

Sat Jan 12, 2019, 11:34 PM

2. *ahem*

The privilege may be overridden by interests of the "fundamental demands of due process of law and in the fair administration of criminal justice". 418 U.S. 713.

I trust Tribe infinitely more

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Response to Roland99 (Reply #2)

Sat Jan 12, 2019, 11:40 PM

4. Me too, but still it is more complex than just subpoena her and she shows up and tesifies.

As I said, I'm sure Schiff could make a good case for it and the whole landscape may (hopefully) change rapidly with the latest info coming out.

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Response to Roland99 (Reply #2)

Sun Jan 13, 2019, 12:16 AM

8. Not if it's based on the Constitution, it can't. n/t

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Response to Roland99 (Reply #2)

Sun Jan 13, 2019, 03:14 AM

11. Tribe isn't as sure as you seem to be.

“The legal territory is unsettled,” said Laurence Tribe, the Carl M. Loeb university professor and a professor of constitutional law at Harvard University. “I don’t think there is any authoritative on-point precedent either way.”

One reason Tribe is unsure, presumably, is because the Supreme Court decision you reference god on to distinguish the situation presented there (where the privilege was overridden) from one in which the claim of privilege is based on "a claim of need to protect military, diplomatic, or sensitive national security secrets."


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Response to Amaryllis (Original post)

Sat Jan 12, 2019, 11:39 PM

3. The only problem I can see is that it may interfere with Mueller's

investigation and his secrets. Since this FBI investigation has been made public I have the feeling that when Mueller is finished and hands his report to Congress there will be a stronger demand for all the conclusions to be made public. Also, now it will be more difficult for the GOP to try to disrupt the investigation in the future.

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Response to Amaryllis (Original post)

Sat Jan 12, 2019, 11:40 PM

5. It's the exceptional-ness of the situation that asks for it to at least be considered.

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Response to fierywoman (Reply #5)

Sun Jan 13, 2019, 12:17 AM

9. The exceptional is used to set precedent.

Once precedent is set, it's not exceptional.

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Response to Amaryllis (Original post)

Sat Jan 12, 2019, 11:42 PM

6. i remember when this happened..........

and several things baffled me about that entire event.........

#1 that with all the drumpf russia ties... drumpf holds a meeting with putin and insists no one but an interpreter be allowed in...... and the GOP and media just pretty much shrug. Dems were screaming into the void... no one found this suspicious???

#2 why in the world was an American interpreter there? Why didn't Putin provide one? Or why didn't Putin just speak English? He knows how.

#3 Here's the thing about the subpoena.......... okay, maybe it is privileged...... so what? Does that even matter at this point with all the evidence against drumpf? Issue the subpoena, MAKE the White House REFUSE to let the interpreter speak to Congress.... and see how that plays out in the public. Good luck with that.

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Response to Takket (Reply #6)

Sun Jan 13, 2019, 02:13 AM

10. The usual rules for interpreters at such meetings are simple.

The interpreters facilitate. They aren't present except as conduit and sometimes as reviewer.

They come in pairs. Each side brings one. It's irregular for one side to leave his interpreter out of the meeting. It leaves that side at a disadvantage. Even in business. Unless the interpreter is hired by both parties at once, which happens, but then you make sure the interpreter has no bias.

So there's Russian and English. The Russian interpreter listens to the English that's spoken, takes notes, and repeats it in Russian. What's said can take a couple of seconds, it can take 20 minutes. No matter, the interpreter has to repeat it accurately--and that's the only reason for notes. The English interpreter listens. With a nod it's confirmed that it's accurate; or the agreement is that unless there's something said it's accurate. Then the Russian speaker talks. The English translator takes notes and repeats what he said in English. The Russian interpreter listens and makes sure what's said is accurate.

That's the only thing the interpreters do. They don't chat. They don't comment. They don't roll their eyes or make faces. They have no opinion. Their role is to be a conduit--and secondarily to point out mistakes that matter. If the interpreter profoundly disagrees with what's said, nobody should be able to tell. If the interpreter profoundly agrees ... the same, nobody should be able to tell. The interpreter does not make eye contact unless there's a point. When the interpreter is speaking for his/her side, the person listening properly faces the "real" speaker, not the person whose lips are moving and who's making sounds. The interpreter has nothing to say and is in place of the client.

The notes are there to make sure the interpreter gets it right, they're a tool for the interpreter and nothing else. They're often in interpreter shorthand--there are various, but nobody needs to use a standard system and it's best not to take notes verbatim. If the conversation consists of turns of one or two sentences there are no notes, but the interpreter sits there with his/her pad in case it goes for more than a couple of sentences. If it's light banter and inconsequential, the interpreter might be making a grocery list.

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Response to Amaryllis (Original post)

Sun Jan 13, 2019, 09:14 AM

12. The Bottom Line Is Simple - Executive Privilege Will Be Asserted And Inadequately Challenged By Dems

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