President Trump says he's considering ending the standard protocol of having top administration officials listen to his calls with foreign leaders, following his conversation with Ukraine's president, a call that culminated in his impeachment. Mr. Trump floated the possibility in an interview with Geraldo Rivera.
Rivera asked the president why so many people are allowed to listen to his phone calls, a longstanding practice for the purposes of recordkeeping and consistent policymaking.
"Well that's what they've done over the years, when you call a foreign leader, people listen. I may end the practice entirely, I may end it entirely. Sometimes you have 25 people," Mr. Trump said during the Thursday radio interview.
Keeping any other American officials from hearing such calls would prevent records from being created, and any officials from sharing what they heard. And that could result in enabling a foreign nation to shape the narrative of a phone call with the leader of the free world, with no record or witnesses to counter it.
Mr. Trump has continued to insist his phone call with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky was "perfect," even as multiple Republican senators said the president's conduct was inappropriate or wrong, when he asked Zelensky to investigate the Bidens and the administration withheld military aid to Ukraine. Asked what he learned from impeachment, the president responded that he learned Democrats are "crooked."
The president has long been wary about the leaking of his calls with foreign leaders, which is not an unfounded fear. In the early days of his presidency, calls with the president of Mexico and prime minister of Australia. As the world would learn, the memo summarizing the president's call with Zelensky was stored in a secure server for sensitive information.
During the same interview with Rivera, the president claimed, without evidence, that many people started "applauding" when ousted National Security Council official Alexander Vindman was kicked out of the White House. The White House, who testified before Congress during the impeachment probe, along with his twin brother last week.