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Home / World News / Donald Trump to stop officials from listening in calls with foreign leaders

Donald Trump to stop officials from listening in calls with foreign leaders

Democrat-led House of Representatives initiated an impeachment inquiry against Trump last September based on concerns raised by a whistleblower who had reported being concerned about what the person had heard about the president’s call with Ukrainian president.

world Updated: Feb 14, 2020 21:34 IST
Yashwant Raj
Yashwant Raj
Hindustan Times, Washington
US President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with Lenin Moreno, Ecuador's president, not pictured, in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, DC.
US President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with Lenin Moreno, Ecuador's president, not pictured, in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, DC.(Bloomberg)

US President Donald Trump has said he may discontinue the practice of officials listening in on his phone calls with foreign leaders, after he was impeached for one of them and nearly got removed from office.

“That’s what they’ve done over the years — when you call a foreign leader, people listen,” Trump said to a radio host in an interview Thursday, when asked why so many people listened in on his calls to foreign leaders.

“I may end the practice entirely, I may end it entirely,” he added.

Democrat-led House of Representatives initiated an impeachment inquiry against Trump last September based on concerns raised by a whistleblower who had reported being concerned about what the person had heard about the president’s call with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky on July 25.

The whistleblower only had second-hand knowledge of the call. But there were plenty of other White House and National Security Council officials who had been tasked to listen in as a matter of practice. Among them were NSC’s expert on Ukraine Lt Col Alexander Vindman and the vice-president’s national security aide Jennifer Williams, both of whom testified before the House intelligence committee during the impeachment inquiry and said they had found the president’s conversation inappropriate and concerning.

Trump had pressed Zelensky in that call to investigate former Vice-President Joe Biden, who is running for the Democratic presidential nomination to contest against Trump in November, and his son Hunter Biden who had held a lucrative position on the board of a Ukrainian gas company during his father tenure.

Trump had been had held up $391 million in military aid to Ukraine and a White House meeting with the president to force the issue.

Though Trump insisted the call was “perfect, the House impeached him last December for abusing the powers of his office for personal benefit and obstruction of congress’s investigation into it. The Republican-led senate voted to proposal to remove him from office and acquitted him of both charges in earlier this month.

Barrs fails to bar Trump’s tweeting

In a rare public rebuke of the president, Attorney General William Barr on Thursday told an interviewer that Trump’s tweeting made “it impossible for me to do my job”. He was referring to the case of Roger Stone, a long-time confidant of the president. The department of justice had recommended a lesser sentence for him than the one submitted earlier by the case’s prosecutors, shortly after Trump had complained about it.

“I think it’s time to stop the tweeting about Department of Justice criminal cases,” Barr said.

Trump ignored the rebuke and was back at it Friday morning sating he had the “legal” right to intervene in criminal cases as president and that he hasn’t done so yet.