Sep 30, 2019

Russia says White House must ask for consent to release Trump-Putin phone calls

President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin. Photo: Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images

The Russian government said Monday that the White House must ask for consent to publish transcripts of phone calls between President Trump and Vladimir Putin because such releases are "not normal diplomatic practice," Reuters reports.

Why it matters: The White House's release of a summary of Trump's phone call with the president of Ukraine may have set a dangerous new precedent now that the conversation is at the center of an impeachment inquiry. House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) said Sunday that Democrats will try to get the transcripts of the president's calls with other world leaders, especially in light of reports that Trump's calls with Putin and Saudi Arabian leaders were also stored on a secret national security system.

Go deeper: The new precedent set by White House's release of Ukraine call

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Report: Putin and Hungary PM denigrated Ukraine to Trump

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán during a February press conference in Budapest.

Russian President Vladi­mir Putin and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán denigrated Ukraine during conversations with President Trump, the Washington Post first reported Monday. The New York Times reports Trump met with Orbán 10 days before a key Ukraine meeting, despite objections from then-national security adviser John Bolton.

Why it matters: Per the NYT, Trump’s concerns on U.S. ally Ukraine "set the stage for events that led to the impeachment inquiry against him." The May 13 meeting with fierce Ukraine critic Orbán and a May 3 phone call between Trump and Putin "are of intense interest to House investigators seeking to piece together the back story that led to the president’s pressure on Ukraine to investigate Democrats," the Times said.

Go deeperArrowUpdated Oct 22, 2019

McMaster wasn't aware of White House's foreign call "lockdowns"

H.R. McMaster. Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Three former administration officials tell Axios that former national security adviser H.R. McMaster did not authorize and was not aware of the "locking down" of transcripts of conversations between President Trump and foreign leaders that were politically damaging but didn't pose national security risks.

Why it matters: Congressional investigators want to learn how, when and at whose direction transcripts were moved out of the typical computer system and into a classified system meant for highly sensitive security matters.

Go deeperArrowOct 13, 2019

House chairs threaten White House subpoena in impeachment inquiry

Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The chairs of the House Intelligence, Oversight and Foreign Affairs committees released a memo and draft subpoena on Wednesday that would compel the White House to turn over documents related to their impeachment inquiry into President Trump's alleged efforts to push Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden.

"The White House’s flagrant disregard of multiple voluntary requests for documents—combined with stark and urgent warnings from the Inspector General about the gravity of these allegations—have left us with no choice but to issue this subpoena."
— Chairs Adam Schiff, Elijah Cummings and Eliot Engel
Go deeperArrowOct 2, 2019