Phone Call Transcripts Are More Secret Under Trump Due To Fear Of Leaks

US President Donald Trump speaks on the phone with Australia's Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull from the Oval Office of the White House on January 28, 2017, in Washington, DC. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN / AFP) (Phot... US President Donald Trump speaks on the phone with Australia's Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull from the Oval Office of the White House on January 28, 2017, in Washington, DC. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN / AFP) (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images) MORE LESS
|
September 25, 2019 10:11 a.m.

The scars of the leaked transcript of President Trump’s conversation with Mexico in 2017 — in which he told the Mexican president he didn’t actually care if Mexico paid for the wall, his signature campaign promise — have lingered far longer than that news story’s shelf life.

While Trump is not particularly private about who gets to listen in on his phone calls with foreign leaders, the White House has grown deeply protective of the transcripts of those calls in the Trump era, according to the New York Times. The paranoia is primarily linked to the embarrassing leak of the call with Mexico and another call with the prime minister of Australia in 2017. Those leaks gave fodder to Trump’s belief in a “deep state” embedded within his own intelligence community, meant to undermine his every move.

At the beginning of the Trump administration, transcripts were widely distributed among various administration channels. But now, “eyes only” transcripts of calls are shared with the secretary of state and the defense secretary, according to the Times. Both Cabinet officials are not even allowed to make copies of the documents or share them with other officials. No recordings are ever made of the calls, according to the Times.

The Times report on the nature of Trump’s call transcripts comes amid the release of the notes of Trump’s call with Ukraine, which is now at the center of Democrats’ impeachment inquiry. Even that document was not a verbatim full transcript of the call with President Volodymir Zelensky. The document released from the White House even notes that the text of the document is based on the notes and recollections of those intelligence officials “assigned to listen and memorialize the conversation in written form.”

Introducing
The TPM Journalism Fund: A New Way To Support TPM
We're launching the TPM Journalism Fund as an additional way for readers and members to support TPM. Every dollar contributed goes toward:
  • -Hiring More Journalists
  • -Providing free memberships to those who cannot afford them
  • -Supporting independent, non-corporate journalism
Are you experiencing financial hardship?
Apply for a free community-supported membership
Comments
advertisement
Masthead Masthead
Founder & Editor-in-Chief:
Executive Editor:
Managing Editor:
Senior Editor:
Special Projects Editor:
Editor at Large:
General Counsel:
Publisher:
Head of Product:
Director of Technology:
Associate Publisher:
Front-End Developer:
Senior Designer:
SPECIAL DEAL FOR PAST TPM MEMBERS
40% OFF AN ANNUAL PRIME MEMBERSHIP
REJOIN FOR JUST $30