On CNN Saturday, former national security official and CNN analyst Samantha Vinograd laid into the Trump administration for skirting the proper channels of communication for diplomatic talks — and the damage it is doing.
"I think it is important to remind viewers what typically happens after a head of state call," said Vinograd. "There is of course a lot of focus on the readout of this call that was released, that we think was documented for the presidential record. Even before that happens, there is often a verbal readout given by the national security adviser to people who may be not in on the call, like the secretary of state. One would have assumed in this instance for example at least a verbal readout would have been given to Attorney General Barr as well, because he was specifically mentioned on the call by name, and he was assigned with follow-up from the call."
"Something different happened here," continued Vinograd. "Instead of Attorney General Barr being debriefed, what we know from the whistleblower complaint is the day after the call, two State Department officials went to meet with the Ukrainians, according to the whistleblower, to navigate the president's demands of the Ukrainians. Shortly thereafter, one of these officials put Rudy Giuliani in touch with the Ukrainians to follow up on the call as well, and the investigation of Biden. What didn't happen is our embassy in Ukraine, where there is an acting ambassador, where there is a legal office, and where there is a chief law enforcement officer who is charged with working on anti-corruption issues, were not, to the best of our knowledge, in the loop. Instead, it appears President Trump's friends and family list got a readout, whether verbal or otherwise, of this July 25 call and official channels were not used for the right people."
"What is the danger of that?" asked anchor Fredricka Whitfield.
"Certainly undercutting the experts and leaving them in the dark, and for obvious reasons in this case, because it appears the president may have been abusing his power and soliciting foreign election interference," said Vinograd. "That is danger number one. Danger number two, we didn't elect the president to be a counterintelligence risk, but to guard against them."
"If the president of the United States is doing things that senior members of his team don't know about, like for example when he reportedly met with the Russians and said he wasn't concerned about Russian election interference ... we can't erase those moments from foreign officials' minds. This isn't 'Men in Black.' There is no magic device that can do that," said Vinograd. "By leaving his own team in the cold, foreign governments know things about the president that are sensitive, that are dangerous, potentially illegal, and that becomes a manipulation point."