News & Politics

Susan Rice: Obama Also Put Call Transcripts on Secure Secret Server

President Barack Obama talks with National Security Advisor Susan E. Rice aboard Marine One en route to Stonehenge in Wiltshire, England following the NATO Summit in Wales, Sept. 5, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza) This official White House photograph is being made available only for publication by news organizations and/or for personal use printing by the subject(s) of the photograph. The photograph may not be manipulated in any way and may not be used in commercial or political materials, advertisements, emails, products, promotions that in any way suggests approval or endorsement of the President, the First Family, or the White House.

While it has already been established that the White House was putting call transcripts between Trump and foreign leaders on a codeword system in order to prevent leaks, this seems like a significant revelation:

Former national security adviser Susan Rice acknowledged last night that the Obama administration moved transcripts of conversations with foreign leaders onto the same top-secret server where the Trump administration stored his recent phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Appearing at the Texas Tribune Festival, Rice was asked how often this practice was engaged in during the Obama administration, but did not answer that question, saying instead, “We never moved them over unless they were legitimately, in the contents classified.” Rice did not explain what standard the Obama administration used to determine what was legitimately classified. She said it is rare, although not impossible, that a presidential conversation could be classified to that highest level.

In the aftermath of the whistleblower complaint, the idea of a phone call transcript being put on the codeword system was portrayed as unprecedented and suggestive of a cover-up. But now we have two revelations that undermine that claim. First is that in early 2017 the Trump administration changed the procedure for storing call transcripts following the leaks of two phone calls between Trump and leaders of Australia and of Mexico, and second, that the Obama administration, which was not known for having a huge problem with leaks, occasionally did the same thing. Storing the Trump-Zelensky transcript on the secure system was clearly not a deviation of procedure or something unprecedented—as the whistleblower complaint suggested.

Here is video of Susan Rice talking about this:


Matt Margolis is the author of Trumping Obama: How President Trump Saved Us From Barack Obama’s Legacy and the bestselling book The Worst President in History: The Legacy of Barack Obama. You can follow Matt on Twitter @MattMargolis