Transparency

Critics Blast Lack of Transparency Over White House Decision on Phone Call Readouts

Publishing readouts of the president's calls with foreign leaders has been a common practice for Republican and Democratic administrations-until now.

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Sipa USA/Newscom

Multiple outlets are reporting that the Trump administration has stopped publishing readouts of the president's phone calls with foreign leaders.

Republican and Democratic administrations have released such summaries for years, and they often serve as the only official description of the calls. The last readout, published in mid-June, summarized a conversation between Donald Trump and the prime minister of Hungary. Since then, no readouts have been released, even though Trump has spoken with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the last two weeks.

CNN was the first outlet to report on the Trump administration's decision, and the news was confirmed by The Wall Street Journal and CBS News. It's not clear if the change is temporary or permanent. Readouts of calls will still be available to some officials.

Tony Blinken, a former deputy secretary of state, notes that public readouts are important for two reasons. "One is transparency," Blinken tells CNN. "There is a public interest in knowing who he talked to and what they talked about. Secondly, these readouts help shape the narrative. If we aren't doing a readout, but the other country is, their narrative is going to prevail."

The change has sparked a chorus of disapproval on Twitter:

In the past, the White House's versions of Trump's calls have sometimes differed greatly from what other countries say happened. In early June, the Journal reports, the U.K. government's readout of a conversation between Trump and British Prime Minister Theresa May suggested that May had called Trump out over his tariffs on European Union goods. The White House's readout left that out, saying instead that Trump "further underscored the need to rebalance trade with Europe."

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  1. Are these tweeters supposed to be important thought leaders we’ve all heard of?

    1. My question exactly. I scroll through these twits faster than I do a #realRedTony thread. Don’t have the time or inclination to look up who they are and why I should care.

    2. Who are these people? I thought blue check marks were for famous people. Everyone seems to have one now.

  2. So the complaint is that they’re not getting White House spun phone conversations? Is this parody?

    1. You know what the complaint is. Stop playing dumb.

      Trump could shoot YOU on 5th Avenue and you’d still be licking his nuts.

      1. You must not read any of my comments, but you sure can read minds.

        1. If the White House isn’t providing these readouts (which are just summaries of how the White House wants to frame the conversation) then the media should just accept the other foreign leader’s narrative.

          How can you say: “The White House always lies” and still think “White House spun talking points not being provided is a grave threat to democracy”?

          1. Neither a foreign government’s readout nor the current White House’s is probably extremely helpful information, but there doesn’t seem to be a good reason to let only foreigners report what was said.

            1. There isn’t really a good reason why the White House has to produce these transcripts. I doubt any transcripts, whether produced by the White House or foreign leaders is all that helpful. They’re both going to spin it to their advantage.

              There are so many better things to complain about, but somehow people always choose the most innocuous things

            2. There doesn’t seem to be a good reason to *not* let only foreigners report what was said.

              Oh, and no one is reporting what was said. The White House is spinning the ‘substance’ of the conversation and releasing that. This is not a transcript with appended commentary. Its just commentary on a transcript that you’ll not be allowed to see at all.

              Sure, Trump’s shit – but this is just theater anyway.

    2. Knowledge is good. Right-wing goobers seem to be too dumb to recognize this. Maybe the bigotry eats their brains?

      1. The Obama administration didn’t release the full transcripts either, hicklib.

  3. Good job, critics. I do not give a shit after 18 months of “HOLY SHIT! THE SKY IS FALLING!!”

    1. Other people definitely give a shit about reading your comments about not giving a shit, though.

      1. Well you did reply to his post, so yeah it’s pretty obvious that “other people” do care about his comment.

        1. Cathy L is bad at snark.

      2. One such person, clearly, is you.

    2. Good job, critics. I do not give a shit after 18 months of

      Disaffected right-wing yahoos have never given a shit. It’s part of being alienated, marginalized, and a malcontent.

      1. Hicklibs, on the other hand, give a shit about nothing but the most useless issues. It’s part of being angry that Daddy didn’t give you that pony when you were five.

  4. LOL – Trump’s own lawyers have a policy of never speaking one-on-one with him without a witness because of his habit of “misremembering” what was said and what was agreed to. Besides which, Trump and Putin don’t pillow talk on the phone, they chat via ????ster.

    D: Talked to Duterte today, I like a man with firm beliefs.
    V: Dah, and strong actions.
    D: He makes hard decisions. Hard, but not mean.
    V: Hard like me?
    D: Dah. I mean, yes. Hard like you and me.
    V: Firm and strong, too?
    D: Not yet, the Viagra takes a few minutes.

    1. You sound like conservatives who said that Obama was weak on Iran. And your parody is pretty bad.

      1. Better parody:

        Trump: You know, Vlad, I feel lonely sometimes. Sometimes, I feel like I am the best president, of all time, but few people in the media are willing to acknowledge that. Many people have said that

        Putin: You are best president. I can attest

        Trump: Thank you, Vlad. I really appreciate that. (sigh) I wish I could reach through the phone and embrace you

        Putin: I want embrace

        Trump: Our two countries should be friends. We should be friends

        Putin: *sniffles* I like

  5. the U.K. government’s readout of a conversation between Trump and British Prime Minister Theresa May suggested that May had called Trump out over his tariffs on European Union goods. The White House’s readout left that out, saying instead that Trump “further underscored the need to rebalance trade with Europe.”

    So, basically you’re saying the readouts are not anything of the sort and therefore pointless, enable administrations to fudge facts to fit their own agendas, and are a complete farce.

  6. If I wanted to read what people I don’t know, or care about, are saying on twitter, I’d be on twitter.

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