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White House rejects request for info on Putin, Trump Helsinki meeting

President Donald J. Trump and President Vladimir Putin of the Russian Federation hold a working lunch | July 16, 2018 (Shealah Craighead/White House)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

The White House has rejected a request from three congressional committees seeking information on private conversations between President Donald Trump and Russian leader Vladimir Putin in Helsinki last summer.

White House counsel Pat Cipollone sent a letter to the Democratic chairmen of the three committees in the House of Representatives March 21.

The president “must be free to engage in discussions with foreign leaders without fear that those communications will be disclosed,” Cipollone said.

In a letter earlier this month, three committees asked details on Trump and Putin’s conversations in person and by phone.

They also asked for documents related to the conversations and whether Trump tried to conceal any evidence of them. And they asked for an interview with the interpreter who was present at the meeting.

Since Democrats won control of the House in November elections, they have become increasingly assertive in investigating the Trump White House.

At the July Helsinki meeting, Trump stunned many Republican and Democratic congressional lawmakers when he contradicted the findings of the U.S. intelligence community about Russia’s meddling in U.S. political affairs.

In a later post to Twitter, he also called the investigation of Special Counsel Robert Mueller “rigged witch hunt.”