It’s the duty of the president and those who surround him to determine how secretive their communications should be. However, the use of a private system to conceal conversations with the president of Ukraine seems unusual to many former security experts who have served in the White House in previous administrations.
As detailed in reporting from HillReporter.com on Thursday, the whistleblower complaint, of which a redacted form was released by Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-California), alleged that the commander-in-chief had pressured Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky to open an investigation against a political rival of Trump’s, former Vice President Joe Biden, who is attempting to run against Trump in the 2020 presidential election.
The complaint also claims that records of the communications between Trump and Zelensky were improperly filed into a classified system ordinarily reserved for documents of higher sensitivity. Officials familiar with the process the Trump administration took said they were ‘directed’ by White House lawyers to remove the electronic transcript from the computer system,” and to place it into a much higher-classified system instead.
A highly secure computer system where aides to President Trump reportedly stashed the details of his call with Ukraine’s leader is reserved for the biggest U.S. secrets, according to former officials familiar with its operation https://t.co/BGNAEfats6
— The Wall Street Journal (@WSJ) September 26, 2019
“One White House official described this act as an abuse of this electronic system because the call did not contain anything remotely sensitive from a national security perspective,” the whistleblower wrote.
The decision to do this was deemed questionable by former members of the White House National Security Council from previous administrations, NPR reported.
“I had never heard or witnessed what we’re seeing now, where a transcript was routed directly to the most sensitive compartmented security clearances so that no one could see it,” said Michael Green, who served on the NSC under former President George W. Bush.
Green went on to say that the methods used seemed more political than necessary for the security of the country.
“This suggests that procedures in the White House right now are just ad hoc and that national security law and national security procedures…are being used in an ad hoc, haphazard and highly political manner,” Green said.
Ned Price, who served on former President Obama’s NSC, alleged that the Trump administration was trying to evade detection of the president possibly engaging in highly-questionable behavior.
“This seems to be nothing more than an abuse of the classification and the information security system to safeguard not the information, but to effect a cover-up,” Price said.
Former CIA director Leon Panetta, who also served as chief of staff under the Clinton administration, also weighed in on the matter. “I have never seen it done in my time in the White House, and I doubt that other presidents have engaged in this,” he said, “although you never know what happened in the Nixon White House.”
The allegations made by the whistleblower, which were revealed in generalized terms before the Thursday release of the complaint, were what tipped Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi over the edge to support and announce formal impeachment proceedings against the president.
“The actions of the Trump presidency revealed the dishonorable fact of the president’s betrayal of his oath of office, betrayal of our national security, and betrayal of the integrity of our elections,” Pelosi said in her announcement on Tuesday.
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Chris Walker is a freelance writer based out of Madison, Wisconsin. A millennial with more than a decade of journalism experience, Chris aims to provide readers with the latest and most accurate news of national importance. Chris likes to spend his free time doing activities in his community with his family.