In the latest diktat by the White House, fewer US government officials are allowed to listen to President Donald Trump's phone calls with foreign leaders, local media reported. This comes after a US House of Representatives panel framed two charges of impeachment against Trump on account of his alleged withholding of US military and financial aid to Ukraine in exchange for the country to investigate his domestic political rival. The President's July 25 call with Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelenskiy became a central part of the House impeachment inquiry.
Transcripts of the calls are also being given to a smaller number of officials, as per reports. "Nobody is allowed on the calls," a White House official said while describing a new attempt to limit access to the calls to top aides only. "The barn door officially closed after the horse escaped." Multiple officials told the media agency that when President Trump speaks with world leaders, only a select few are on the call, and the list is approved by national security adviser (NSA) Robert O'Brien.
Previously in the administration and during other presidencies, a greater number of officials were reportedly permitted to listen in, including aides with expertise on the countries involved in the calls. One official jokingly referred to the change as "The Vindman Rule," a reference to Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, who listened to the July 25 call and reported it to National Security Council lawyers. "Vindman wouldn't hear the [July 25th] call if it happened tomorrow," one official said.
US President Donald Trump, breaking all his previous records, tweeted 123 times within a couple of hours against the House Judiciary Committee’s decision to initiate impeachment charges. Trump is known for expressing his emotions instantly on Twitter and the tsunami of tweets clearly indicated that the Republican President was furious. In a no-holds-barred series of tweets, Trump attacked Democrats calling them the “Party of Hate” and accused the House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi of admitting that she has been working on impeachment for two and a half years. Trump, from his official Twitter handle @realDonaldTrump, tweeted 123 times, including tweets and retweets.
(With agency inputs)