White House staff reportedly needed to 'babysit' Trump's phone calls with world leaders because he was often unprepared

  • White House staff used to "babysit" President Donald Trump's phone calls with foreign leaders because he was often so unprepared for the conversations, a source familiar with how calls to foreign leaders were handled under former White House chief of staff John Kelly told CNN.
  • Kelly left the White House in December 2018. The source said that Kelly would often mute Trump's phone calls so people in the room could guide him because he was known to sometimes go off "on random tangents" with foreign leaders.
  • A Trump phone call is at the center of a whistleblower complaint filed last month, which has since triggered a formal impeachment inquiry.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

President Donald Trump was so frequently unprepared for conversations with world leaders that White House staff needed to sit in on his conversations to make sure Trump didn't say anything inappropriate, CNN reported. 

A source familiar with how calls to foreign leaders were handled under former White House chief of staff John Kelly told CNN that several staff members would coach the president during his phone calls in order to avoid any diplomatic gaffes.

"Kelly always wanted a bunch of us to be there in the Oval (Office) ... to just babysit on these calls," the source said.

In the past, officials from the US National Security Council would brief the president before a call, and then sit with the president in the Oval Office during a call, according to the BBC. Other officials in separate parts of the White House will also listen in on conversations and take notes, known as a "memorandum of telephone conversation," which would often be combined with automated computer transcriptions.

23 PHOTOS
Donald Trump faces impeachment inquiry
See Gallery
Donald Trump faces impeachment inquiry
Staunch Trump ally Sen. Chuck Grassley pushes back against calls to out whistleblower
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., listens as Rep. Joe Neguse, D-Colo., and other House Democrats discuss H.R. 1, the For the People Act, which passed in the House but is being held up in the Senate, at the Capitol in Washington, Friday, Sept. 27, 2019. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 01: Tourists make photographs inside the rotunda of the U.S. Capitol on October 01, 2019 in Washington, DC. Under the leadership of Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), the House of Representatives has opened an impeachment investigation of President Donald Trump following revelation that a whistleblower filed a complaint that Trump was seeking damaging information about a political opponent from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 30 : President Donald J. Trump talks to reporters about the whistleblower after participating in a ceremonial Swearing-In of the Secretary of Labor Gene Scalia in the Oval Office at the White House on Monday, Sept 30, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
KIEV, UKRAINE - OCTOBER 01: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky speaks to the media on October 1, 2019 in Kiev, Ukraine. Ukraine has been at the core of a political storm in U.S. politics since the release of a whistleblower's complaint suggesting U.S. President Donald Trump, at the expense of U.S. foreign policy, pressured Ukraine to investigate Trump's rival, Joe Biden, and Biden's son, Hunter. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)
(COMBO) This combination of pictures created on September 24, 2019 shows US Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, Democrat of California, on September 24, 2019 and US President Donald Trump in Washington, DC, September 20, 2019. - Amid mounting allegations of abuse of power by the US President, Pelosi announced the start of a formal impeachment inquiry in the House of Representatives, the first step in a process that could ultimately lead to Trump's removal from office. (Photos by Mandel NGAN and SAUL LOEB / AFP) (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN,SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., reads a statement announcing a formal impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Sept. 24, 2019. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., steps away from a podium after reading a statement announcing a formal impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Sept. 24, 2019. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
U.S. President Donald Trump reacts to audience applause after his address to the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly, Tuesday, Sept. 24, 2019. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
U.S. President Donald Trump arrives to address the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters Tuesday, Sept. 24, 2019. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
WASHINGTON, DC - September 24: Surrounded by journalists, Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee Adam Schiff (D-CA) emerges from a meeting with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, before the delivers a speech concerning a formal impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump, on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC on Tuesday September 24, 2019. (Photo by Melina Mara/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
Members of the White House press corps - holding in the Trump Bar at Trump Tower - watch U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) live on television as she announces an impeachment investigation of U.S. President Donald Trump in New York City, New York, U.S. September 24, 2019. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. President Donald Trump ATTENDS a bilateral meeting with Iraq's President Barham Salih on the sidelines of the annual United Nations General Assembly in New York City, New York, U.S., September 24, 2019. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) speaks to news reporters following an impeachment proceeding announcement, at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S., September 24, 2019. REUTERS/Tom Brenner
U.S. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA) walks through a House corridor following an Impeachment Proceeding announcement, at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S., September 24, 2019. REUTERS/Tom Brenner
U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL.) speaks to news reporters following an Impeachment Proceeding announcement, at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S., September 24, 2019. REUTERS/Tom Brenner
THE TONIGHT SHOW STARRING JIMMY FALLON -- Episode 1125 -- Pictured: Host Jimmy Fallon as Donald Trump during the "Trump U.N. Speech" Cold Open on September 24, 2019 -- (Photo by: Andrew Lipovsky/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
Protesters with "Kremlin Annex" call to impeach President Donald Trump in Lafayette Square Park in front of the White House in Washington, Tuesday, Sept. 24, 2019. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., announced a formal impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 24: U.S. House Minority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) speaks to the media in response to an announcement by Speaker of the House Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) at the Capitol Building September 24, 2019 in Washington, DC. Pelosi announced a formal impeachment inquiry today after allegations that President Donald Trump sought to pressure the president of Ukraine to investigate leading Democratic presidential contender, former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, which was the subject of a reported whistle-blower complaint that the Trump administration has withheld from Congress. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 24: Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-VA) walks with her press secretary, Connor Joseph, to a House Democratic caucus meeting at the U.S. Capitol where formal impeachment proceedings against U.S. President Donald Trump were announced by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi September 24, 2019 in Washington, DC. Spanberger is one of seven freshman members of the House with national intelligence or military backgrounds who recently spoke out in an opinion piece calling for an investigation of Trump. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 24: Reporters and congressional staff members wait outside a House Democratic caucus meeting at the U.S. Capitol where formal impeachment proceedings against U.S. President Donald Trump were announced by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi September 24, 2019 in Washington, DC. Pelosi announced a formal impeachment inquiry after allegations that President Donald Trump sought to pressure the president of Ukraine to investigate leading Democratic presidential contender, former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, which was the subject of a reported whistle-blower complaint that the Trump administration has withheld from Congress. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - SEPTEMBER 24: Reporters crowd around Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., as he leaves the House Democrats caucus meeting in the Capitol on impeachment of President Trump on Tuesday, Sept. 24, 2019. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - SEPTEMBER 24: Rep. Al Green, D-Texas, arrives for the House Democrats caucus meeting in the Capitol on impeachment of President Trump on Tuesday, Sept. 24, 2019. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

During the Trump presidency, the White House began to limit the number of people allowed to listen in on Trump's phone calls after transcripts of Trump's calls with the leaders of Mexico and Australia were leaked, according to The New York Times. According to CNN, the current policy typically allows four officials to listen in to calls with foreign leaders, "and include the national security adviser, the National Security Council director and deputy director for that region."

Read more: Trump is facing the biggest firestorm of his presidency because his own staffers blew the whistle on him

A source told CNN that prior to Kelly leaving the White House in December 2018, he would often hit "mute" on the call so people in the room could guide him, as he was known to sometimes go off "on random tangents" with foreign leaders.

"We were there to coach him in real-time because he was so impervious to coaching ahead of time," the source told CNN.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Insider.

A Trump phone call is at the center of a whistleblower complaint filed last month, which has since triggered a formal impeachment inquiry.

An unnamed intelligence official lodged a complaint in August regarding a July 25 phone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, saying that he was deeply troubled by a phone call Trump had with a foreign leader, particularly "a promise" Trump made.

The Intelligence Community Inspector General, Michael Atkinson, deemed it "credible" and of "urgent concern," and passed the complaint on to acting Director of National Intelligence, Joseph Maguire. 

The complaint, which was declassified last week, alleged that Trump pressured Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden. The White House last week also released a memo about the call, which appeared to confirm that Trump pressed Zelensky to open an investigation into corruption allegations against former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter Biden.

US House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff said on Sunday that Congress is determined to get access to Donald Trump's calls with Russian President Vladimir Putin and other world leaders. 

"I think the paramount need here is to protect the national security of the United States and see whether in the conversations with other world leaders — and in particular with Putin — that the president was also undermining our security in a way that he thought would personally benefit his campaign," Schiff said on NBC's "Meet the Press."

NOW WATCH: The rise of Boris Johnson, the UK's new controversial prime minister who was fired from multiple jobs

See Also:

SEE ALSO: 

Read Full Story

Sign up for Breaking News by AOL to get the latest breaking news alerts and updates delivered straight to your inbox.

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails?may offer personalized content or?ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe?any time.