Pablo Martinez Monsivais, AP Photo, File

Democrats want Jon Huntsman Jr. to testify about Helsinki summit

By Dennis Romboy, KSL | Posted - Jul 19th, 2018 @ 3:02pm


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SALT LAKE CITY — Senate Democrats want U.S. Ambassador to Russia Jon Huntsman Jr. and other high-ranking officials to testify before Congress about President Donald Trump's private meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and five other senators urged Trump in a letter to send Huntsman, Defense Secretary James Mattis and a top intelligence community leader to explain to lawmakers how they will continue to advance American interests after the Helsinki summit.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is scheduled to appear before Congress next week and is expected to be hit with questions about the meetings.

Huntsman attended a larger meeting of the U.S. and Russian delegations but has not spoken publicly about his role or what was talked about.

The Democrats' letter includes a list of 13 questions "critical to U.S. national security" the senators want answered to show that Trump still holds "America's interests first."

"We must now wonder what you discussed and may have promised to President Putin," the letter says.

In a Senate floor speech Wednesday, Schumer demanded to hear from the president's national security team and others who were in Helsinki, even the interpreter.

"We need to have immediate public testimony from Secretary Pompeo, (Director of National Intelligence Dan) Coats, from Ambassador Huntsman," he said.

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"Above all, we need the translator who was present at the one-on-one meeting with President Putin to testify openly before Congress," Schumer said. "That's not usually done, but there's almost always other people in the room."

Some, including the chief strategist for Huntsman's 2012 presidential run, called on the former Utah governor to resign as ambassador after the Trump-Putin joint news conference.

Huntsman told reporters before the Helsinki meeting that "the ball really is in Russia's court, and the president will continue to hold Russia accountable for its malign activities."

On "Fox News Sunday," Huntsman listed those malign or evil activities as trying to influence American and European elections, tampering with the Brexit vote and funding nefarious political movements in Europe.

"The list goes on and on and on," he said.

At the press conference Monday after the summit, Trump appeared to take Putin's word that Russia didn't meddle in the 2016 presidential election. The president later told CBS that he holds Putin responsible for the election interference.

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