Usually, the President’s conversations with foreign leaders are listened to and shorthand by aides.
US President Donald Trump has said he may abolish a long-standing practice that allows administration officials to listen to the President’s phone conversations with foreign leaders.
Recall that the case of impeachment against Trump was provoked by his July telephone conversation with the President of Ukraine.
“Maybe I will eradicate this practice,” Trump said in an interview with radio host Geraldo Rivera.
Trump was presented for impeachment because of his decision to freeze military aid allocated for Ukraine.
Democrats in the House of Representatives insisted that trump abused his authority by asking Ukraine to investigate his political rival, Joe Biden, and other Democrats in exchange for help. The President was also accused of obstructing Congress because of his refusal to provide documents and witnesses.
Secretary of state Mike Pompeo and several White House employees listened to the conversation between Trump and Zelensky, held on July 25.
This is standard practice for any administration. Aides working in the soundproof Situation room in the West wing kept a transcript of the conversation. The National Security Council then prepared a Memorandum of the conversation, which is considered an official record.
The White House became less willing to distribute these documents after information about the President’s conversations with foreign leaders, including Mexico, leaked to the media, according to two sources familiar with the situation.
According to Larry Pfeiffer, who worked for 30 years in intelligence and coordinated the Situation room under Obama, his predecessor told him that the White House stopped recording presidents ‘ phone conversations on tape in the 1970s after Nixon recorded 3,700 hours of his conversations. Transcripts of these calls were used as part of the Watergate investigation and subsequent impeachment hearings.
“This long-standing practice is designed to help the President and protect him. It allows the President and the national security adviser to track any agreements reached during the conversation, and quickly and accurately refute all incorrect statements made by the other side,” Pfeiffer explained, adding that it also allows the White House staff to take further measures to implement the President’s decisions.
Pfeiffer, currently head of the center for intelligence, policy, and international security noted that the President’s phone records also perform an important historical and archival function.
“By stopping this practice, the President will only make it worse for himself,” he said. – And this only suggests that the President has something to hide from his employees.”