Last April, CNN was first to report that the White House had suspended the practice of publishing public summaries of President Trump’s phone calls with foreign leaders, though sources said readouts continued to be released internally.
The White House didn’t publish readouts, but would confirm that the calls took place after they were reported by foreign media, though officials rarely elaborated on what was said.
But that suspension has shifted in recent months. The White House has started releasing readouts of the President’s formal calls with leaders once again — including several which are now under scrutiny after a communication between Trump and a foreign leader prompted a whistleblower complaint that is now at the center of a dispute between the director of national intelligence and Congress. It’s not clear whether that communication was a phone call.
He’s recently spoken to…
- British Prime Minister Boris Johnson
- Russian President Vladimir Putin
- French President Emmanuel Macron
- Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
How the readouts work now: The readouts are handled on the National Security Council side, but approved by the West Wing press office before being released. They are often brief with few details.
A National Security Council spokesman declined to immediately elaborate on why the policy changed. It has been in effect for at least the last full month.
One thing to note: Two people familiar with the matter cautioned that there are not readouts for every call the President makes — there are only official readouts for the official calls.
Trump, who has multiple iPhones that aides once joked were “Trump 1” and “Trump 2,” has developed a habit in office of calling foreign leaders that he’s developed a personal relationship with, often after hours when most of his staff is not in the office.
Phoning a foreign leader from his iPhone would circumvent the protocols usually in place for a President to phone a foreign leader. The traditional practice originates in the White House Situation Room, which would establish the phone call on secure lines and patch the leaders together.