Former Bush and Obama Officials Weigh in on Subpoenaing the Helsinki Interpreter



On Thursday, I wrote about Adam Schiff’s request to subpoena the interpreter from Trump’s Helsinki summit with Vladimir Putin (please find the article here).


On Friday, former officials from both the Bush and Obama administration gave their 2 cents on a translator being forced to testify before Congress.

David Mortlock, Obama’s international economics affairs director for the White House National Security Council, said the precedent would be a disconcerting one:

“For the same reasons why we need to protect our own diplomats, there is a real concern about having translators be subject to subpoenas. … [Interpreters are] at the center of diplomatic relationships and it raises concerns about whether you can truly have diplomatic communications.”

Another Obama National Security Council member — Ben Chang — agreed, saying translators have “seen or heard a ton,” but they exist purely as a “vessel” through which the sitting president communicates.

Chang suggested subpoenaing security advisor John Bolton or Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, or other relevant government officials.

Chances, or course, are slim the interpreter will ever be forced to testify: Republicans have a majority in both houses (at least for a few more months — see here and especially here).

Richard Fontaine, Bush-era NSC member, expressed his condolences to bloodthirsty Democrats (exposed here):

“I feel their pain, but I don’t think forcing the translator of the president to testify [about] what she heard will be successful.”

Bush’s deputy press secretary, Tony Fratto, charged the effort was “fruitless.”


“The law is clear. It would be bonkers to think this conversation doesn’t fall under executive privilege.”

In my view, the whole idea is ridiculous. However, I suspect the attempt to subpoena the interpreter, as would be the case if they were to publicly interrogate her, as is the case with many things in politics, has been merely intended to cast suspicion on the President. It’s just one more unsubstantive move for political gain.

In this case, they didn’t get far. But one thing’s for sure: with November near, they sure aren’t done.

What are your thoughts on the translator being subpoenaed? Do you think the Democrats are perhaps relieved the effort made it no further? In a way, it works better for them than a successful subpoena which turns into a nothing burger.

In case you missed the relevant RedState links in this article, please go herehere, here, and here.

For something (sort of) totally different, please see my coverage of Time’s new Trump/Putin cover, Obama’s South African Trump jabs, and Elizabeth Warren’s reaction to Bret Kavanaugh.

Find all my RedState work here.

And please follow Alex Parker on Twitter and Facebook.





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