DOJ Tells White House to Keep Notes of Trump’s Calls With Foreign Leaders

October 2, 2019 Updated: October 3, 2019

White House personnel on Oct. 2 were told by the U.S. Department of Justice that they must preserve notes regarding President Donald Trump’s meetings and calls with foreign leaders.

The agency has “instructed relevant personnel to preserve the information,” Justice Department lawyers wrote in a Washington D.C. court filing (pdf).

According to the Washington Examiner, the latest filing in a district court is part of a federal lawsuit that was initiated by the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a left-leaning watchdog group earlier in 2019.

“This preservation instruction is consistent with and supplements the litigation hold already in effect in this action, which instructed relevant personnel to preserve all evidence relevant to the claims and defenses in this case,” the DOJ court documents also stated. “It further supplements pre-existing instructions to all White House personnel to preserve all presidential records, whether in hard-copy or electronic form.”

The watchdog group filed an emergency restraining order on Tuesday that requested that the Trump administration preserve all records, including transcripts and notes about meetings or calls with foreign leaders, reported the Examiner. CNN previously reported that other than the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics, archivist groups such as the National Security Archive and the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations took part in the lawsuit.

The lawsuit comes after House Democrats last week moved on an impeachment inquiry against Trump, accusing him of pressuring his Ukranian counterpart in a July phone call on investigating former Vice President Joe Biden, a potential 2020 opponent, and his son, Hunter.

Trump and Biden
President Donald Trump (L). (Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images); Former Vice President Joe Biden (R). (Frank Franklin II/AP Photo)

It comes as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) told ABC News on Wednesday: “I think the president knows the argument that can be made against him, and he’s scared.”

Trump, however, dismissed the inquiry and said the Democrats have accomplished nothing, leading them to distract the American public with the impeachment proceedings.

“The Do-Nothing Democrats should be focused on building up our Country, not wasting everyone’s time and energy,” he said, adding that it’s “what they have been doing ever since I got overwhelmingly elected in 2016, 223-306.” He was referring to the electoral vote.

Pelosi added that she believes Trump “didn’t understand that I thought what he did was wrong” on the call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Also on Wednesday, Republican congressional leaders accused Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), and Democrats of rigging the impeachment politically after news broke that Schiff was in contact with the whistleblower before the complaint against President Donald Trump was filed.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) at a press conference in the House Studio of the U.S. Capitol in Washington on Sept. 2, 2019. (Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images)

The report from the New York Times said that Schiff received an “early account by the future whistleblower” days before the person filed the complaint accusing Trump of presidential misconduct.

The report seemed to be confirmed by a Schiff spokesman, who said: “Like other whistle-blowers have done before and since under Republican and Democratic-controlled committees, the whistle-blower contacted the committee for guidance on how to report possible wrongdoing within the jurisdiction of the intelligence community.”

Zachary Stieber contributed to this report.

RECOMMENDED