As soon as President Trump hung up the phone with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on July 25, his aides jumped into motion to address concerns about the conversation, including taking steps to put notes on the call in a password-protected, highly-classified vault, CNN reported.
National security officials immediately began discussing whether Trump had gone too far with his request for Zelensky to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, per CNN. Some aides also discussed whether to alert senior officials — namely Attorney General Bill Barr who was named multiple times in the phone call — who were not privy to the conversation.
At least one White House official who listened in on the call was “visibly shaken” after the conversation, describing the call as “frightening” and “crazy,” ABC News reported, citing the notes taken by the whistleblower who eventually filed a complaint based on the conversation with that White House official. This means that at least one person close to President Trump who was listening to the call was concerned about Trump’s rhetoric. The memo penned by the whistleblower was reportedly written a day after the infamous Zelensky call, according to ABC. That memo was handed over to the intelligence community’s inspector general, who later deemed the complaint “credible” and of “urgent concern.”
Within a week of the call, a top intelligence agency lawyer contacted John Eisenberg, the lead lawyer on the National Security Council, to discuss concerns about a Trump call with a foreign leader, according to CNN. Around the same time, the White House’s memo on the call was being finalized by National Security Council staff. Instead of following the typical procedure for a call of this sort, a National Security Council lawyer, acting on Eisenberg’s guidance, moved the call to the highly secure server in order to prevent more people from seeing it, CNN reported.
One person familiar with the matter told CNN that it was possible Eisenberg ordered the memo placed in the vault because it would need to be preserved for legal reasons.
These revelations are all independent of the concerns that were raised by the intelligence community whistleblower. According to CNN, White House lawyers believed the contents of complaint would not see sunlight outside the executive branch.