The White House admitted Friday that lawyers ordered the transcript of a damning call between President Trump and Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky moved to a top-secret server — but didn’t explain why.
Confirming another key revelation of a blockbuster whistleblower complaint, a senior administration official said the rough transcript of the now infamous July 25 phone conversation was moved to a highly classified system maintained by the National Security Council.
The official, who was not identified, would not explain when the transcript was moved and did not offer any explanation for the action, which critics say proves that the White House was seeking to cover up evidence of Trump’s abuse of power.
The whistleblower complaint, which is at the center of House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry, said the move to “lock down” details of the call suggested that “White House officials understood the gravity of what had transpired in the call.”
It’s not clear what legitimate explanation the White House could come up with to explain away the effort to hide the transcript. The top-secret server is supposed to be used only for the most sensitive matters of national security, not politically embarrassing presidential phone calls.
The whistleblower tantalizingly wrote that White House officials told him other damning Trump statements had also been improperly moved to the top-secret server to shield them from public scrutiny.
Trump has claimed that the phone call was “perfect” and that impeachment-happy Democrats are seeking for new excuses to remove him from office after the Russia collusion investigation flopped.
The explosive whistleblower complaint has proven remarkably accurate so far, despite attempts by Republicans and the White House to dismiss it because the CIA agent that filed it did not hear the call firsthand or directly witness some of the disturbing actions it relates.
Meanwhile, Vice President Mike Pence, who would take over if Trump is removed from office or resigns, reportedly favored keeping the call transcript secret, but Trump overruled him.
The White House had been pursuing a strategy of stonewalling any and all inquiries into its conduct. But Trump shifted gears on the Ukraine scandal, apparently believing that it would not be politically feasible to block release of the call transcript and the whistleblower complaint.
With News Wires Services