Leaked transcripts a risk to U.S. diplomacy
Leaked transcripts of presidential calls aren’t just embarrassing to Donald Trump.
They could undermine faith in Washington’s ability to protect confidential conversations and intelligence, and have a chilling effect on U.S. diplomacy.
In the latest egregious sign of a U.S. administration that can’t keep a lid on its private deliberations, The Washington Post this week published a written record of phone conversations between Trump and the leaders of Mexico and Australia. The talks took place soon after Trump’s inauguration.
Such leaks have enraged Trump. Former U.S. officials warn the leaks could add to mistrust among international partners grappling with Trump’s unconventional approach to foreign policy, which includes at least one high-profile case of the U.S. president sharing the sensitive intelligence from a foreign ally. The cumulative effect may be to hurt Washington’s leadership in world affairs.
“The risk is that our foreign counterparts no longer believe we are capable of keeping conversations, or even their intelligence, private,” said Jon Finer, who was secretary of state John Kerry’s chief of staff during president Barack Obama’s second term.
“If you need to talk about something highly sensitive, have an inperson conversation with minimal amount of folks in the room,” said Anthony Clark Arend, professor of government and foreign service at Georgetown University.
“Do not have a phone conversation with the president,” he said.