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Trump says he might keep others from listening in on calls

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump said Thursday that he might end the long-running practice of letting other administration officials listen in on presidential calls with foreign leaders. That’s after Trump’s impeachment was triggered by his July phone call with the president of Ukraine.

“I may end the practice entirely,” Trump told Geraldo Rivera in a radio interview that aired Thursday.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and White House staffers listened in on Trump’s July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy. In it, Trump asked the foreign leader to look into Ukraine’s alleged involvement in the 2016 presidential election and the activities of Democrat Joe Biden and his son Hunter, who served on the board of a Ukrainian energy company.

As is standard practice in any administration, White House staffers, working in the secure, soundproof Situation Room in the West Wing basement, listened in and chronicled the conversation. National Security Council personnel then prepared a memorandum about the call, which serves as an official record.

Larry Pfeiffer, a 30-year U.S. intelligence veteran who managed the Situation Room during the Obama years, said his predecessor told him that the White House had stopped taping presidential calls in the 1970s after President Richard Nixon recorded 3,700 hours of conversations. Transcripts of those conversations were used by Watergate investigators and during the impeachment hearings that followed.

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