NPR

Trump's Recently Disclosed Putin Conversation Is 'Nixon All Over Again'

Two interpreters who served a number of U.S. presidents, say a secrecy-obsessed Richard Nixon was the only president to routinely dispense with interpreters.

Harry Obst, who worked as a German interpreter for seven U.S. presidents through Bill Clinton, says he can only remember one of them who ever dispensed with an interpreter during discussions with a foreign leader: Richard Nixon.

It was a bad idea, for lots of reasons, the author of White House Interpreter: The Art of Interpretation, tells NPR.

And he says that also goes for President Trump, who acknowledged this week that he and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Hamburg, Germany, without an interpreter on the American side. "It was Nixon all over again," Obst says.

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from NPR

NPR5 min readPolitics
Impeachment Hearing FAQ: Who Will Testify And How The Questioning Will Work
Democrats have called three career public servants to appear for the first public hearings in the Trump impeachment inquiry: William Taylor, George Kent and Marie Yovanovitch.
NPR6 min read
Illegal Pot Grows In America's Public Forests Are Poisoning Wildlife And Water
Insecticides and other chemicals found at the sites threaten long-term damage to ecosystems. California law enforcement, ecologists and others are cracking down on the illegal operations.
NPR4 min readPsychology
How Schools Are Using The Trump Impeachment Inquiry As A Teachable Moment
Teachers around the country are finding different ways to address the impeachment proceedings in their classrooms. In the process, they're exploring concepts and skills often relegated to textbooks.