Trump says he may stop other ears on calls

Donald Trump says he may stop other staff listening in to his calls to other world leaders.
Donald Trump says he may stop other staff listening in to his calls to other world leaders.

US President Donald Trump says he may end the long-running practice of letting other 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 on Thursday.

Trump was impeached over his decision to hold up military aid to Ukraine. House Democrats allege that Trump abused his power by asking Ukraine to announce investigations of political rival Joe Biden and other Democrats in exchange for releasing the aid.

The president's impeachment stemmed from his July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and White House staffers listened in the call.

As is standard practice in any administration, the staffers, working in the secure, soundproof Situation Room in the West Wing basement, chronicled the conversation. National Security Council personnel then prepared a memorandum about the call, which serves as an official record.

The White House clamped down on the distribution of those memos earlier in the Trump administration after information about the president's calls with other heads of state were leaked to the media.

Larry Pfeiffer, a 30-year US intelligence veteran says 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.

"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."

Australian Associated Press