Former White House chief of staff John Kelly had to mute the line during Donald Trump’s phone calls with world leaders and urge the president not to share closely held U.S. secrets, a new report claims.
Trump is under considerable pressure amid reports that his White House sought to conceal some conversations with world leaders in a codeword-level system in order to hide politically sensitive information. This includes transcripts of the call between Trump and the Ukrainian president in which Trump pressed Ukraine to launch an investigation into Joe Biden’s family. Trump now faces scrutiny for calls and meetings with other world leaders, as another report claimed that he told top Russian officials in a now-infamous 2017 meeting that he was not concerned about Moscow’s interference in the 2016 presidential election.
A new report from The Wall Street Journal seems to show that there was plenty of concern within the White House about Donald Trump’s interactions with world leaders. The report claims that some of Trump’s top advisers, such as John Kelly, took steps to prevent him from divulging sensitive information to world leaders during phone calls and led the White House to lock down information about these calls. Kelly even went so far as to mute the line on Trump and remind him not to give away these closely held secrets, the report claimed.
The report claimed that a pair of controversial phone calls prompted the efforts to hide Trump’s actions. One was with then-Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull where Trump blasted a refugee deal that his administration formed with Australia. In another call with then-Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, Trump pressed his Mexican counterpart on building a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Trump had repeatedly promised during the 2016 campaign that he would build a wall and force Mexico to pay for it, but Mexican officials were steadfast against paying. Trump ultimately appeared to go back on this promise and instead pressed Democrats in Congress to allot funding to build the wall.
John Kelly publicly defended Trump for his behavior during phone calls, including pushing back against allegations that Trump was insensitive to the wife of a slain U.S. service member during a call in 2017.
Donald Trump now faces the prospect of impeachment for his efforts to press Ukraine on an investigation into Joe Biden and Biden’s family, as well as the White House’s efforts to hide the evidence of this pressure.