White House Limited Access To Call With Saudi Crown Prince After Khashoggi Murder: Report

The Trump administration went to extraordinary lengths to curtail access to a call between the president and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, sources say.

The call – which, like the conversation with Ukraine’s Volodymyr Zelensky, is said to have contained no sensitive information related to national security – took place in and around the time when the White House was juggling competing interests amid the fallout from the murder of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Trump and Mike Pompeo were widely criticized for the administration’s lackluster response to the extrajudicial killing. At a breakfast meeting with the Saudi delegation at the Osaka G-20 in late June, Trump ignored shouted questions about the incident, which sparked international condemnation.

At Bin Salman Breakfast, Trump Ignores Shouted Khashoggi Questions

According to a source who spoke to CNN, “officials who ordinarily would have been given access to a rough transcript of the conversation never saw one”. In fact, the person said, “a transcript was never circulated at all”, something the source described as “highly unusual, particularly after a high-profile conversation”.

The Trump administration not only looked the other way amid the global outcry around Khashoggi’s death, but actually went so far as the essentially claim that the CIA was lying about the prince’s culpability.

The US did sanction more than a dozen Saudis, but that announcement came in conjunction with the announcement from Riyadh of a probe into those same people, which means the whole thing was obviously coordinated. Trump insisted throughout that there was no proof that Prince Mohammed ordered the killing, despite the fact that there was all manner of proof (and even if there wasn’t, common sense was all you needed).

Eventually, Congress attempted to punish the Saudis by passing a bipartisan resolution to halt US support for the war in Yemen, but Trump vetoed the bill. He and Pompeo also stonewalled  a Magnitsky Act request.

In addition to restricting access to an account of the call with Prince Mohammed, CNN says Trump took similar steps with calls involving Vladimir Putin.

“With Putin, access to the transcript of at least one of Trump’s conversations was also tightly restricted”, a source said.

CNN reiterates a point raised by The Washington Post on Thursday, noting that the paranoia originally stemmed not from concern around Trump’s improprieties, but rather out of a desire to shield him from scorn after leaks of his calls with the leaders of Australia and Mexico served up a veritable buffet of cringe-worthy soundbites, including the infamous “local milk people” head-scratcher with Australia’s Malcolm Turnbull, who Trump told “I am the world’s greatest person that does not want to let people into the country”.

The issue with the bin Salman call is that, because it contained no sensitive information related to national security, there would have been no reason to restrict access beyond normal protocol.

That clearly suggests Trump may have said things along the same lines as those which have landed him in hot water on Capitol Hill this month. As for the calls with Putin, well, you can only imagine what might have been discussed.

On Friday, America also learned that John Eisenberg, White House deputy counsel for national security affairs, in fact ordered the Ukraine transcript sequestered to the separate code-word electronic system discussed in the the whistle-blower complaint. The administration confirmed that the account of the call was transferred on the advice of NSC attorneys.

It isn’t known whether the call with Prince Mohammed (or those with Putin) was similarly quarantined.


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2 thoughts on “White House Limited Access To Call With Saudi Crown Prince After Khashoggi Murder: Report

  1. The impeachment train has left the station and is picking up speed.

    Latest developments:

    — The first House Republican, Rep. Mark Amodei, has announced his support for the impeachment inquiry against Trump: “Let’s put it through the process and see what happens.”

    — U.S. Special Envoy for Ukraine Kurt Volker has resigned from his position. (Big deal — he’s decided he’s not going down with this sinking ship.)

    — CNN reporting that White House restricted access to Trump’s calls with Putin and Saudi crown prince Bonesaw.

    — WaPo reporting that Trump told Russian officials in 2017 Oval Office meeting he wasn’t concerned about their 2016 election interference because the US does it as well. It prompted a lockdown of documents describing call.

    — NY Times reporting that Trump asked to meet with the utterly corrupt Wayne LaPierre, head of the NRA, a terrorist organization, to see if the NRA would help pay for his impeachment defense. LaPierre said yes so long as Trump agreed to slow-walk and/or veto any gun reform legislation coming out of Congress. (That’s an impeachable offense.)

    — Rudy Giuliani has canceled a paid appearance next week at a Kremlin-backed conference. (You can’t make this stuff up!)

    — HuffPo reporting that Karen Pence reportedly refused to kiss husband Mike Pence on election night, telling him: “You got what you wanted, Mike. Leave me alone.”


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