White House restricted access to Trump's calls with Putin and Saudi crown prince: CNN

US President Donald Trump (AFP photo)

The White House constrained access to President Trump’s conversations with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Russian President Vladimir Putin, according to CNN.

Citing people familiar with the matter, CNN reported Friday that the White House prevented officials who would have ordinarily been given access to a rough transcript from obtaining any of one conversation Trump had with Prince Mohammed.

According to the officials, this was very unusual especially after the high-profile conversation.

Although it did not contain any especially sensitive national security secrets, it came as the White House was facing the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, which, according to US intelligence assessments, the Riyadh government was behind it.

In the case of Trump's call with Putin, access was denied to the transcript of at least one of the conversations, according to a former Trump administration official.

This comes as Trump has come under scrutiny following a whistleblower complaint that involved Trump making a "promise" to a foreign leader, with The Washington Post and The New York Times later reporting that the incident in question involved Ukraine.

In a phone call on July 25, Trump repeatedly asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden’s son, a report says.

Trump reportedly told Zelensky nearly eight times to work with his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani on a probe related to Hunter Biden.

Earlier on Friday, the White House acknowledged that administration officials ordered that the Ukraine call transcript be filed in a highly classified system.

A senior White House official told CNN that the decision was made by National Security Council attorneys.

“NSC lawyers directed that the classified document be handled appropriately,” the official noted.

The White House has so far provided no information as to why it selectively put certain Trump’s calls into the codeword system, despite not being highly classified, such as the Ukraine call.

Officials from the past two administrations described as unusual the move to transfer a transcript that does not contain sensitive information into the code word computer system.

"In my experience you would never move a transcript to the code word system if it does not have any code word terms. If the president is classifying and declassifying stuff he doesn't want to get out, that is an abuse of power and abuse of the system," said Sam Vinograd, a CNN national security analyst who served on President Barack Obama's National Security Council and at the Treasury Department under President George W. Bush.

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