White House Changes Trump Phone-Call Rules

Now fewer people will be allowed to listen in
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 14, 2019 12:30 PM CST
White House Changes Rules for Trump Phone Calls
In this June 27, 2017, file photo, President Donald Trump talks on the telephone in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington.   (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)

President Trump's phone calls with foreign leaders just got a little more private, CNN reports. According to White House officials, the approved-listener list has fallen to a handful of top administration officials appointed by Trump. Seems national security adviser Robert O'Brien gets to approve the list and listen in himself, along with other senior figures like acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, his deputy Matt Pottinger, and Vice President Mike Pence's national security adviser Lt. Gen. Keith Kellogg. "Nobody is allowed on the calls," says a White House official. "That barn door officially closed after the horse escaped."

The horse, of course, is Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, the National Security Council's Ukraine director, who testified last month that Trump's July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was "improper" (ergo one White House official's name for the new directive: "The Vindman Rule"). Among those now banned are senior national security officials who manage policy and relations with the country or region Trump is calling. Officials tell CNN the change will lead to "a smaller circle of loyalists in all policymaking discussions" and fewer NSC staff forming "the connective tissue between the White House and interagency," which is "critical to getting things done." The Hill has asked the White House for comment, but no word yet. (More President Trump stories.)

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