Trump Says He Might Stop Officials Listening In on His Calls With Foreign Leaders After 'Insubordinate' Vindman's Testimony

President Donald Trump said he was considering ending the practice of having other people listen to his calls with leaders of other countries, during a Thursday interview with Geraldo Rivera on his radio show.

Trump also voiced his displeasure with Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman, the National Security Council member who testified about alleged improprieties during Trump's phone call with Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelenskiy during the impeachment hearings in 2019. During that call, Trump allegedly asked Zelenskiy to open an investigation into the Ukraine-based business dealings of both former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, in exchange for approximately $400 million in security aid.

When Rivera asked Trump why people were allowed to listen in on his phone calls Trump said it was a longstanding practice.

"Well, that's what they've done over the years," Trump said. "When you call a foreign leader, people listen. I may end the practice entirely. I may end it entirely."

"Sometimes you have 25 people," Trump added, naming Secretary of State Mike Pompeo as one of those who listened to his call with Zelenskiy and proclaimed it "perfect."

Newsweek reached out to the White House for comment but did not receive a response in time for publication.

Trump called Vindman's actions in the aftermath of his phone call to Zelenskiy "very subordinate."

"The only one, this guy ran and said he didn't like the call," Trump said, referring to Vindman. "First of all, that's very insubordinate. Why wouldn't he go to his immediate—you know, he went to Congress or he went to [House Intelligence Committee chairman Adam] Schiff or he went to somebody."

donald trump
President Donald Trump said Thursday he may end the practice of letting others listen in to his phone calls with foreign leaders. Alex Wong/Getty

After the president's acquittal of impeachment charges in the U.S. Senate, Trump fired both Vindman, as well as U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland. Both men had testified against Trump during the impeachment hearings.

"Vindman was a guy that when we took him out of the building, the building applauded," Trump said of Vindman's dismissal. "Many of the people in the building started applauding."

"I'm not a fan of Vindman," Trump added. "I don't think I've ever met him, by the way. Just so you understand, many of these people I've never met. But I'm not a fan of Vindman, no question about it."

Vindman was the leading expert on Ukraine at the NSC before being ousted by the Trump administration in a move many observers believed was retribution for his testimony.

After Vindman's dismissal, his attorney David Pressman said in a February statement, "There is no question in the mind of any American why this man's job is over, why this country now has one less soldier serving it in the White House. LTC Vindman was asked to leave for telling the truth. His honor, his commitment to right, frightened the powerful."

National security adviser Robert O'Brien said retaliation was not the impetus for Vindman's removal, during remarks to the Atlantic Council Tuesday.

"The president is entitled to staffers that want to execute his policy that he has confidence in," O'Brien said. "We're not a country where a bunch of lieutenant colonels can get together and decide what the policy is of the United States. We're not a banana republic."

O'Brien also denied that Vindman had been fired, but instead reassigned to a different military detail. "It's a privilege to work at the White House," O'Brien said. "It's not a right."

Trump Says He Might Stop Officials Listening In on His Calls With Foreign Leaders After 'Insubordinate' Vindman's Testimony | Politics