Susan Rice, who was one of President Obama‘s closest advisers during his time in office, blasted President Trump on Friday night for storing details about his July 25 call with Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky in a separate, highly secured computer system.
Rice, who was a guest at the Texas Tribune Festival in Austin, addressed whistleblower allegations that the Trump administration worked to “lock down” these records to presumably hide his interaction with Zelensky where he dangled about $400 million in military aid to get Kiev to investigate the Bidens relationship to the country.
Both Trump and Zelensky denied the allegations. Trump insisted that the conversation was “perfect” and he was just making sure the country was making good on its promise to weed out corruption.
Obama’s former national security adviser said the “normal system” that holds information on similar calls is protected and classified. She said there was “no classified substance” in the Trump phone call and yet the administration “hid it on a very highly sensitive, highly compartmentalized server that very few people in the U.S. government have access to in order to bury it.”
She was asked by the moderator if the Obama administration ever kept calls on a separate server. She responded by saying only if “they were legitimately in their contents classified.”
“It’s rare that a presidential conversation would be classified to that highest level,” she said. “It’s not impossible. It’s very rare. Even when they are two leaders discussing classified information. Here’s a case where there was nothing classified and it was moved to the most secure, sensitive server.”
The Wall Street Journal reported on Saturday that the Trump administration—after sensing problematic leaks early in his presidency—worked to protect presidential phone calls. Politicians on both sides of the aisle understand the importance of a sitting president’s ability to engage with a foreign leader in a conversation that would not face public scrutiny.
The Trump administration reportedly said the phone call with Ukraine’s leader was only added to the server after guidance from National Security Counsel lawyer.