In light of the reported testimony of Lt Col Vindman here, wherein the assertion is made that the raw (software captured) transcript does not agree with the publicly released TELECON, specifically that crucial words and phrases were omitted, raises the question again regarding preservation of records.

Wouldn't the raw transcript, as well as the 'edited version' be considered a presidential record?

1 Answer 1


The answer to this question lies in 44 USC 2201, the act's definitions. Subsection (2) defines presidential records:

(2) The term “Presidential records” means documentary materials, or any reasonably seg­regable portion thereof, created or received by the President, the President’s immediate staff, or a unit or individual of the Executive Office of the President whose function is to advise or assist the President, in the course of conducting activities which relate to or have an effect upon the carrying out of the constitutional, statutory, or other official or ceremonial duties of the President. Such term—

(A) includes any documentary materials relating to the political activities of the President or members of the President’s staff, but only if such activities relate to or have a direct effect upon the carrying out of constitutional, statutory, or other official or ceremonial duties of the President; but

(B) does not include any documentary materials that are (i) official records of an agency (as defined in section 552(e) [1] of title 5, United States Code); (ii) personal records; (iii) stocks of publications and stationery; or (iv) extra copies of documents produced only for convenience of reference, when such copies are clearly so identified.

The term documentary materials is defined at (1):

(1) The term “documentary material” means all books, correspondence, memoranda, documents, papers, pamphlets, works of art, models, pictures, photographs, plats, maps, films, and motion pictures, including, but not limited to, audio and visual records, or other electronic or mechanical recordations, whether in analog, digital, or any other form.

So yes, the raw transcript and the edited version are both presidential records as defined by the act.

  • If I'm reading this right, if someone made a surreptitious/illegal recording or other documentation of the President, then gave the President (or someone on his staff) a copy of it, then that would also qualify as a Presidential record? Based on the "created or received by the President" line. Oct 30, 2019 at 5:54
  • IMO, such a surreptitious recording would have to be made by a member of the president's staff or executive office individual whose responsibilities include providing counsel and/or assistance to the president would be included under the Act. ( eg, a recording made by a waitperson at a restaurant probably not a record under the Act)
    – BobE
    Oct 30, 2019 at 12:38
  • 2
    @BobE I think zibadawa timmy's point is that if a restaurant employee or some other person made a surreptitious recording, it would become a presidential record if it were given to the president or a staff member, because of the words "or received" in the definition of "presidential records."
    – phoog
    Oct 30, 2019 at 14:07
  • @zibadawatimmy am I right?
    – phoog
    Oct 30, 2019 at 14:08
  • @phoog - Bizarre (very strange or unusual, especially so as to cause interest or amusement) , but that is what keeps lawyers occupied !
    – BobE
    Oct 30, 2019 at 14:42

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