Trump says he might keep staff from listening in on calls
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump said Thursday that he might end the long-running practice of letting administration officials listen in on presidential calls with foreign leaders. That’s after Trump’s impeachment was triggered by his July phone call with the president of Ukraine.
“I may end the practice entirely,” Trump told Geraldo Rivera in a radio interview that aired Thursday. Records experts said that was a bad idea, for multiple reasons.
As is standard practice in any administration, staffers working in the secure, soundproof Situation Room chronicle the conversations between the president and other leaders. National Security Council personnel then prepare a memorandum about the call, which serves as an official record.
Larry Pfeiffer, a 30-year U.S. intelligence veteran who managed the Situation Room during the Obama administration, said, “The long-standing practice is something meant to help and protect the president. It allows the president and the national security adviser to track any agreements made on the call and to refute quickly and accurately any incorrect claims about the call made by the foreign side,” Pfeiffer said, adding that it allows White House staff members to follow up and implement the president’s policy.
Pfeiffer said the memos of the calls also fulfill important historical recordkeeping requirements.
“By stopping the practice, the president only shoots himself in the foot,” he said. “And one can only surmise that the president therefore has something to hide from his own staff and bureaucracy.”