White House limits number of officials allowed to listen to Trump calls with foreign leaders: report

Source: The Hill | December 13, 2019 | Rachel Frazin

Fewer administration officials are allowed to listen to President Trump’s phone calls with foreign leaders after the president’s July 25 call with the leader of Ukraine became a central part of the House impeachment inquiry, CNN reported, citing White House sources.

Transcripts of the calls are also being given to a smaller number of officials, sources told the news network.

“Nobody is allowed on the calls,” a White House official told CNN while describing a new attempt to limit access to the calls to top aides only. “The barn door officially closed after the horse escaped.”

Multiple officials told CNN that when Trump speaks with world leaders, only a select few are on the call, and the list is approved by national security adviser Robert O’Brien. 

Previously in the administration and during other presidencies, a greater number of officials were reportedly permitted to listen in, including aides with expertise on the countries involved in the calls. 

One official jokingly referred to the change as “The Vindman Rule,” a reference to Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, who listened to the July 25 call and reported it to National Security Council lawyers. 

“Vindman wouldn’t hear the [July 25th] call if it happened tomorrow,” one official told CNN.

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