White House confirms Ukraine transcript was moved to highly classified system: report

The White House reportedly confirmed Friday that the partial transcript of President TrumpDonald TrumpGraham says he hopes that Trump runs again Trump says Stacey Abrams 'might be better than existing governor' Kemp Executive privilege fight poses hurdles for Trump MORE’s call with Ukraine at the center of a whistleblower complaint was moved to a highly classified system maintained by the National Security Council (NSC) at the direction of White House lawyers.

The Associated Press reported that a senior administration official confirmed a portion of the whistleblower complaint released Thursday that alleged White House lawyers “directed” other officials to remove the electronic transcript from the system where such records are typically stored to one used for handling highly classified information.


It is unclear when or why the move took reportedly place. White House officials have maintained that the document was properly handled.

When reached for comment, a senior administration official told The Hill: “NSC lawyers directed that the classified document be handled appropriately.”

White House counselor Kellyanne ConwayKellyanne ConwayCook Political Report shifts Virginia governor's race to 'toss-up' Overnight Defense & National Security — Iron Dome funding clears House Sean Spicer, Russ Vought sue Biden over Naval Board removal MORE told reporters Friday afternoon that she was not aware of details about how the Situation Room handles such transcripts but that she was told it was handled "appropriately."

"As I understand, the document was handled appropriately at all times. And I think the most important thing about said document is that the whole world has access to it now," Conway told reporters at the White House.

She also indicated the protocols for handling transcripts of calls with foreign leaders were changed after leaks near the beginning of Trump's presidency.

"Early on in our time here, as you probably recall, his calls with the leaders of Mexico and Australia leaked, and then his conversation with the Russian ambassador and someone else from that embassy I believe leaked. And so there's great concern. My understanding is that we changed some of the protocols then, in other words, in handling leader calls," Conway said.

"I don't know how the Situation Room handles the transcriptions and I don't know how the NSC does , but I'm told by those who do know that everything was appropriately," Conway continued. 

The whistleblower complaint that's created a firestorm in Washington centers on a July 25 call in which Trump encouraged Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate unsubstantiated allegations against former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenHaiti prime minister warns inequality will cause migration to continue Pelosi: House must pass 3 major pieces of spending legislation this week Erdoğan says Turkey plans to buy another Russian defense system MORE, the front-runner for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination.

The whistleblower, whose identity remains unknown and who lodged the complaint to the intelligence community inspector general, raised concerns that Trump was using his office to solicit foreign interference in the 2020 presidential election.

Trump has insisted he did nothing wrong, describing the call as “perfect” and saying he did not pressure Zelensky to investigate allegations pertaining to Biden.

“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!” Trump tweeted Friday.

The whistleblower reported that they were told the decision to move the transcript of the call was part of an effort by senior White House officials to “lock down” records of the call between Trump and Zelensky, according to the complaint.

Details of the call, a rough transcript of which was released by the White House on Wednesday, have moved House Democrats to jumpstart an impeachment inquiry into Trump.