Both current and former US officials have told the New York times that President Donald Trump’s personal calls are being monitored by the Chinese and Russians. Furthermore, Trump has been made aware of the situation yet refuses to change is behavior.
“Mr. Trump’s aides have repeatedly warned him that his cellphone calls are not secure, and they have told him that Russian spies are routinely eavesdropping on the calls, as well. But aides say the voluble president, who has been pressured into using his secure White House landline more often these days, has still refused to give up his iPhones. White House officials say they can only hope he refrains from discussing classified information when he is on them.”
Reminiscent of the Bloomberg spy chip story, the article does not provide any technical details on how the surveillance is taking place. However, it is not completely silent on the matter.
“American spy agencies, the officials said, had learned that China and Russia were eavesdropping on the president’s cellphone calls from human sources inside foreign governments and intercepting communications between foreign officials.”
The President’s refusal to give up his iPhone is well documented. Initially, he was an Android user. He agreed to give up his Android phone due to the Google operating system’s less reliable security. Trump did not fight against making the switch from Android to iOS. But he refuses to stop using his personal iPhone even in the face of national security concerns.
Trump does not just have one iPhone, but 3. One is dedicated to Twitter use. A second is for calls. Those are his official devices. He keeps a personal iPhone that is no different from the hundreds of millions used by the general population. That is the one he insists on using because he does not want any of his communications going through the White House switchboard.
By way of contrast, President Obama was also an iPhone user. But he placed national security concerns ahead of personal needs. His iPhone was extremely limited. Obama quipped that it was a “great phone” that doesn’t take pictures. It could not do text, and you couldn’t play music on it. His iPhone was like a toy phone that you give to a three-year-old.
The damage that can be done from China and Russia having access to the President’s personal communications is incalculable. It is not just a matter of state secrets. It is a matter of knowing his hopes, ambitions, pettiness, and hot buttons. They know how to work him because they know what makes him tick on a personal level. The potential compromise of national security via the President is unprecedented.