December 9, 2019, 21:58

Trump administration changed foreign-leader call-storage methods after leaks

Trump administration changed foreign-leader call-storage methods after leaks

When the transcripts of two phone calls President Donald Trump had with foreign leaders leaked in the early days of his presidency, the procedure to store those logs changed, multiple sources familiar with the process told ABC News.

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One former career intelligence official added that the administration “changed the dynamics of how these transcripts had been secured.”

The two calls in early 2017, with leaders from Australia and from Mexico, leaked early in Trump’s administration, and sources said the procedure to store them quickly changed — many calls between the president and world leaders instead were stored in a secure server to avoid leaks. The sources who talked to ABC News did caution that it’s unclear if the calls being stored were done so for national security or for political concerns.

One source said it became “basically standard operating procedure” for many of the conversations Trump has had during his time in office.

(MORE: Kurt Volker resigns as US special envoy to Ukraine)

The sources would not specify if any countries were treated differently than others. Decisions on which calls were put into the server, according to sources, were handled by members of the NSC, State Department and White House Counsel’s office. The former career official said the measures taken seemed to solve the leak problem.

Evan Vucci/AP

President Donald Trump arrives to board Air Force One at John F. Kennedy Airport after attending the United Nations General Assembly, Sept. 26, 2019, in New York.

This comes as the first of several joint depositions is set to take place on Capitol Hill next week involving various investigative committees that have begun an impeachment inquiry.

ABC News has learned, in a release from the house oversight committee, Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch, who up until May 2019 served as the U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine, is slated to sit for a deposition on Oct. 2.

On Friday, Trump spent the day in back-to-back meetings at the White House with his top aides, including his communications team, members of the White House Counsel’s team and his personal counsel, sources told ABC News.

(MORE: House Democrats subpoena Pompeo for documents related to Giuliani’s Ukraine efforts)

Despite that, Trump’s lead personal counsel, Jay Sekulow, told ABC News that, at this time, “No war room is being set up — we will respond appropriately.”

Ting Shen/Xinhua via Getty Images, FILE

President Donald Trump signs a presidential memorandum at the White House in Washington D.C., on May 8, 2018, He said that the United States will withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal, a landmark agreement signed in 2015.

Some top aides believe the faster this moves the better it will be for Trump’s reelection. Privately, sources described a mixed bag, with a president who has been at times upbeat yet intent on ensuring no more leaks from the White House.

As part of Trump’s day of meetings, he met with NRA Chief Wayne La Pierre. According to sources familiar with the conversation, the meeting focused on gun control but also about how the NRA could support Trump as he faces impeachment.

“The NRA is not inclined to discuss private conversations with the president,” said Andrew Arulanandam, managing director of NRA Public Affairs. “The NRA categorically denies any discussion occurred about special arrangements pertaining to the NRA’s support of the president and vice versa.”


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