One of the important claims in the whistleblower complaint said that President Donald Trump and his White House had removed international communications from the computer system that typically stores them.
“Instead, the transcript was loaded into a separate electronic system that is otherwise used to store and handle classified information of an especially sensitive nature. One White House official described this act as an abuse of this electronic system because the call did not contain anything remotely sensitive from a national security perspective,” the complaint said.
A former Trump administration official has confirmed to Politico that White House did place transcripts into the codeword system.
After Trump made false claims about his conversations with Mexican and Australian leaders in 2017, someone from the White House leaked the official transcripts. After that was when the White House took the unusual step to block anyone from having access to the call transcripts, according to the former Trump official.
“I don’t think the person who leaked those was ever really discovered,” the former official told Politico. “So there was a decision to tighten the restrictions for those who had access to those transcripts.”
According to another former Trump National Security Official cited by Politico, “it would be unusual to put transcripts in the code word system.”
But according to the whistleblower, senior White House officials intervened to “‘lockdown’ all records” to try and get them out of the general access to anyone in the White House. They did so because “of the likelihood, in the officials’ retelling, that they had witnessed the president abuse his office for personal gain,” the whistleblower claimed.
Typically the NSC’s codeword-level system only holds highly sensitive intelligence matters, so it is unusual that something with no intelligence would be put in the system.
Things put into that secret system includes “covert action programs, diplomatically sensitive information and other national security secrets,” according to Larry Pfeiffer, former Situation Room senior director under President Barack Obama. He also was the CIA chief of staff under the George W. Bush administration.
An example of what might be included in the system would be “information surrounding the very sensitive negotiations and conversations involving Oman” in the early days of crafting the Iran nuclear deal.
“It would never be used to protect or ‘lock down’ politically sensitive material or to protect the president or senior officials from embarrassment,” Pfeiffer told Politico.
The whistleblower filed the complaint after receiving information about requests by Trump to help find dirt on former Vice President Joe Biden and his family to help Trump’s 2020 campaign. White House officials then allegedly worked to cover it up.