Stay up to date with notifications from The Independent

Notifications can be managed in browser preferences.

White House admits Trump’s Ukraine phone call record was moved to secret server

Admission appears to back another claim made by whistleblower in formal complaint about president’s behaviour

Phil Thomas
New York
Friday 27 September 2019 17:00 BST
Whistleblower complaint over Trump's Ukraine call was credible

The White House has admitted moving details of a telephone call between Donald Trump and his Ukrainian counterpart to a classified server, according to CNN.

The admission appears to back up one of the claims made by a whistleblower about efforts to conceal evidence of the controversial call, which has led to an impeachment investigation against the president.

In a statement to CNN, a White House official said staff had been directed by National Security Council lawyers to move records of the call to a server usually used to store classified information. They said: “NSC lawyers directed that the classified document be handled appropriately.”

White House officials say that the call was classified, meaning there was nothing wrong in moving it to that server.

Mr Trump is accused of abusing his position by pressing his Ukrainian counterpart, Volodymyr Zelensky, to dig up dirt on his potential 2020 election rival Joe Biden.

A whistleblower, thought to be a CIA agent who had been assigned to the White House, had also alleged in a formal complaint that aides had tried to hide evidence of the call by moving the record of it to a server reserved for information of “an especially sensitive nature”.

Earlier, Mr Trump had tried to undermine the whistleblower, accusing them of only having “second-hand information” because they said they had gathered details from about half a dozen White House staff.

The president tweeted: “Sounding more and more like the so-called Whistleblower isn’t a Whistleblower at all. In addition, all second hand information that proved to be so inaccurate that there may not have even been somebody else, a leaker or spy, feeding it to him or her? A partisan operative?”

However, Democrats will be reassured that the whistleblower is reliable because a partial transcript of their report tallies closely with the White House admission about the call record being moved to a different server, as does the description of the call itself.

In what could be another blow to Mr Trump’s position, a former Ukrainian prime minister has told the BBC there is no evidence for the claim that Mr Biden helped force out a prosecutor for investigating his son Hunter Biden’s business dealings in Ukraine.

Mr Trump has repeatedly claimed, without offering any evidence, that the former US vice president insisted that Viktor Shokin be fired before the US delivered aid to Ukraine, in order to halt an inquiry.

Ukraine's former Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin rejects claims by Donald Trump concerning Joe Biden

But Pavlo Klimkin, prime minister of Ukraine from 2014 to 2019, told the BBC that Mr Shokin was fired for corruption, and because of pressure from the international community, not just Mr Biden or the US.

Meanwhile the speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi – who formally started the impeachment process this week – accused the attorney-general William Barr of having “gone rogue” in order to protect the president.

She told MSNBC’s Morning Joe: “I think where they’re going is a cover-up of the cover-up. To have a Justice Department to go so rogue - well they have been for a while and it just makes matters worse.”

Ms Pelosi, the most senior Democrat in the House, said she felt she had no choice but to press ahead with impeachment, which could see Mr Trump removed from his job.

Support free-thinking journalism and attend Independent events

She said: ”The clarity of the president’s actions is compelling and gave us no choice but to move forward.”

Mr Trump again defended his actions, tweeting: “If that perfect phone call with the President of Ukraine Isn’t considered appropriate, then no future President can EVER again speak to another foreign leader!”

Nearly 300 former US national security and foreign policy officials have signed a statement in support of an impeachment inquiry, warning that Mr Trump’s actions are a “profound national security concern”.

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in