White House Stops Publishing ‘Read Outs’ Of Calls Between Donald Trump & Foreign Leaders
The White House has stopped publishing summaries of President Donald Trump’s calls with foreign leader, bringing an end to a common exercise by both Republicans and Democrats. It is unclear if the suspension is temporary or permanent. A White House spokesman declined to comment, CNN reported.
This means that Trump’s calls with world leaders, like Russia’s Vladimir Putin, could get even more secretive than they already are. The descriptions of the phone calls generally offer few details but serve as the only official White House account of Trump’s phone conversations with other world leaders. The calls are highly coordinated and carefully planned by the national security team. Leaders are typically patched through the Situation Room and sometimes aides listen in. After the calls, both sides usually publish a readout of what was discussed.
Michael Allen, who was a member of the National Security Council during the George W. Bush administration, said that by halting the practice of issuing readouts, the White House loses “the action forcing event of an announced phone call.” Allan added, “I think they lose the public diplomacy aspect of a presidential phone call.”
Former deputy secretary of state in the Barack Obama administration from 2015 to 2017, Tony Blinken, said there are two main reasons why issuing the readouts are important.
“One is transparency,” Blinken told CNN. “There is a public interest in knowing who he talked to and what they talked about. Secondly, these readouts help shape the narrative. If we aren’t doing a readout, but the other country is, their narrative is going to prevail. ”
The Washington Post reported earlier this month that the White House was caught off guard when Canadian officials provided a readout of a call between Trump and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau that U.S. officials did not know had taken place.
This latest decision to stop the public documentation of high-level phone calls comes on the heels of a controversial meeting that Trump had with Putin earlier this month. The closed-door one-on-one has drawn scorn from both the GOP and Democrats alike, with the president’s own director of intelligence, Dan Coats, admitting he has no idea what happened in the private talk between the world leaders.