After the media spent days speculating that President Donald Trump demanded a “quid pro quo” agreement from Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky, only to learn no such agreement was made, the same outlets began pushing the notion that the Trump administration saved the conversation to a different, secret server.
Former national security adviser for the Obama administration, Susan Rice, however, acknowledged during a speaking engagement Friday night that the previous administration also saved transcripts of phone calls with world leaders this way.
“What [the Trump administration] did instead of storing it in the normal system, which is protected and classified, even though there was no classified substance in that actual discussion,” Rice told an audience at the Texas Tribune Festival. “Instead of putting it where it normally resides, they hid it on a very highly sensitive, highly compartmented server that very few people in the U.S. government have access to in order to bury it.”
Rice was then asked how many times the Obama administration saved conversations to the server. Rice responded by saying the administration only saved conversations that were actually of a classified nature.
“It’s rare that a presidential conversation would be classified to that highest level — it’s not impossible, it’s very rare — even when two leaders are discussing classified information,” Rice responded.
Rice still acknowledged that the Obama administration also saved some call transcripts on the server and did not expand on what would make something “legitimately … classified.”
.@AmbassadorRice: “Normally there is a full, verbatim transcript” of calls like Trump’s w/ the Ukraine president.
Says he tried to “bury” it on a more secure server, but acknowledges the Obama Admin. sometimes did the same. pic.twitter.com/B6zZNbZsTG
— Tom Elliott (@tomselliott) September 27, 2019
The Federalist’s David Marcus noted that Rice’s contention that the Obama administration also used the server, together with reporting from ABC News that saving conversations with world leaders to the more secure server has been a common practice in the Trump administration every since early 2017, when conversations with leaders from Australia and Mexico were leaked to the press.
“The two calls in early 2017, with leaders from Australia and from Mexico, leaked early in Trump’s administration, and sources said the procedure to store them quickly changed — many calls between the president and world leaders instead were stored in a secure server to avoid leaks,” ABC reported. “The sources who talked to ABC News did caution that it’s unclear if the calls being stored were done so for national security or for political concerns.”
The outlet also reported a source saying that saving the conversations to the more secure server was “basically standard operating procedure.”
“Both of these revelations undermine the theory that in this specific case, some unique and bizarre method was used to hide the transcript and engage in a cover up,” Marcus wrote. “Rather, the Trump administration appears to have been engaging in business as usual.”
That hasn’t stopped media outlets from trying to portray the Trump administration negatively. Reuters, for example, has tried to compare the Trump administration keeping a private conversation from leaking to the press to Hillary Clinton’s bathroom server.
“A computer server haunted Clinton in 2016. Now it may be Trump’s turn,” read a headline from the outlet.
One can see how the narrative has shifted in the media to find new reasons to impeach Trump. First, he had demanded some “quid pro quo” from another world leader regarding one of his opponents. When the transcripts showed otherwise, the media deceptively edited them to make it look like Trump asked Zelensky to look into former Vice President Joe Biden. After that narrative failed, the media began claiming that saving the conversation to a more secure server was evidence the president was trying to cover up his nefarious deeds.
Now that narrative is bust as well.