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Democrats ask for documents on Trump-Putin communications

Published: Monday, March 04, 2019 @ 4:05 PM

Hours after the U.S. House Judiciary Committee released a sweeping request for documents in an investigation of the White House, the President's 2016 campaign, and his family businesses, Democrats on three House panels asked the White House and State Department for information about contacts between Mr. Trump and Russian leader Vladimir Putin.

"According to media reports, President Trump, on multiple occasions, appears to have taken steps to conceal details of his communications with President Putin from other administration officials," read a letter sent to both the White House and State Department on Monday.

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The letter, signed by the Democrats who lead the House Foreign Affairs Committee, the House Oversight Committee, and the House Intelligence panel, noted that previous requests for such information had drawn no response from the White House.

"As a result, we are now expanding our investigation," wrote Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD), and Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY).

The lawmakers set a March 15 deadline for a response.

While some of the questions asked by Democrats relate to phone conversations between the two leaders, others focus on two meetings between Messrs. Trump and Putin - one at the 2017 G-20 meeting in Germany, and the other at the July 2018 summit between the two leaders in Helsinki, Finland.

In the Helsinki meeting, Democrats want access to notes about the Trump-Putin meeting, in which the two men met only with interpreters.

Top U.S. Intelligence officials have said they were never briefed about the exact details of the discussion, as the President's post-summit news conference sparked political outrage back in the United States.

"I cooperate all the time with everybody," the President said earlier in the day, when asked about the House Judiciary Committee investigative push.

The flurry of investigative requests was a sharp reminder for the President of how things have changed in Congress with Democrats now in charge of the House.

"Congress has a constitutional duty to conduct oversight over the White House," the three chairs wrote - as Democrats clearly signaled Monday that they will not simply wait for a report from Special Counsel Robert Mueller in order to challenge the President.

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