Sep 28, 2019

Report: White House hid Trump transcripts with Putin, Saudi royals

Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

The White House didn't just hide the Trump-Ukraine phone call, CNN reported last night — it also locked down transcripts with Russian President Vladimir Putin and the Saudi royal family, including crown prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Why it matters: This aligns with the whistleblower complaint, which noted that White House officials said there was a pattern of hiding personally sensitive phone calls on systems designed to protect national security secrets.

Behind the scenes: Sources told CNN and the N.Y. Times that the process was driven by leaks within the Trump administration, including revelations in 2017 about the president's calls with the leaders of Mexico and Australia.

  • "The practice began after details of Mr. Trump’s Oval Office discussion with the Russian foreign minister, Sergey V. Lavrov, leaked to the news media, leading to questions of whether the president had released classified information," the Times reported.
  • "The White House was particularly upset when the news media reported that Mr. Trump had called James B. Comey, the former F.B.I. director, a 'nut job' during that same meeting, according to current and former officials."

Go deeper: Read the whistleblower complaint

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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

Keep ReadingArrowSep 30, 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

Judge orders White House to preserve records of Trump's calls with foreign leaders

Photo: Tom Brenner/Washington Post/Getty Images

U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson ordered the White House on Thursday to preserve records of President Trump’s communications with foreign leaders, including those with Ukraine's president that have spurred an impeachment inquiry in the House, according to Politico.

Why it matters: Jackson's order seems to address concerns outlined in a whistleblower complaint that the White House has used procedures reserved for highly sensitive information to limit access to potentially damaging conversations between Trump and foreign leaders. CNN has reported that officials took steps to restrict access to Trump's calls with Vladimir Putin, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Go deeperArrowOct 6, 2019