Service :
29 September 2019 - 10:58
News ID: 447371
The White House sought to limit access to conversations President Donald Trump had with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman (MbS) and Russian President Vladimir Putin, according to CNN.

RNA - A person familiar with the matter told the outlet that officials who would have ordinarily been given access to a rough transcript were not provided one and that a transcript was never circulated after the call with MbS was complete.

The source told CNN the call did not contain sensitive national security interests.

Officials also tightly restricted access to a transcript for at least one of Trump’s conversations with Putin.

The news came after a declassified whistleblower complaint revealed that the White House sought to bury a transcript of a call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in which he pushed Kiev to open an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden, one of Trump’s top political rivals. 

“There's a lot of talk about Biden's son, that Biden stopped the prosecution and a lot of people want to find out about that so whatever you can do with the Attorney General would be great," Trump said on the call, according to a memorandum.

"Biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution so if you can look into it... It sounds horrible to me,” he added.

The complaint also announced that a future phone call or meeting between the two presidents “would depend on whether Zelensky showed willingness to ‘play ball’”, and “multiple White House officials with direct knowledge” of the call expressed concern that Trump was using his office for his personal political gain.

The whistleblower added that the handling of the Ukraine call was “not the first time” that such steps had been taken “solely for the purpose of protecting political sensitive — rather than national security sensitive — information”.

It is not clear if officials placed the transcripts from the calls with MbS and Putin in the same secured electronic system in which they stored the Zelensky transcript. 

The White House and National Security Council did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Hill. 

“NSC lawyers directed that the classified document be handled appropriately,” a senior White House official told CNN, adding that the decision was made by National Security Council attorneys.

Officials have said the practice of restricting access to some of the transcripts for Trump’s calls started over a year ago after details of some phone calls with world leaders leaked to the media.

Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s personal lawyer, appeared to back out of a conference in Armenia sponsored by the Kremlin that will include appearances by Putin and other Russian officials.

Giuliani told reporters at The New York Times and CNN that he will not participate in the event after a story from The Washington Post reported his involvement.

The White House reportedly confirmed Friday that the partial transcript of Trump’s call with Ukraine at the center of a whistleblower complaint was moved to a highly classified system maintained by the National Security Council (NSC) at the direction of White House lawyers.

The Associated Press reported that a senior administration official confirmed a portion of the whistleblower complaint released Thursday that alleged White House lawyers “directed” other officials to remove the electronic transcript from the system where such records are typically stored to one used for handling highly classified information.


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