The New York Times broke the news on Wednesday that the president of the United States habitually uses an unsecured cell phone to make personal calls, and even discusses important national issues while doing so. According to the report, this potentially puts sensitive information right in the ears of hackers and foreign governments who can listen in on the phone calls.
China and Russia have been specifically named as having the capability to hear the president’s calls, a notion that Russian President Vladimir Putin said “amused” him, according to Newsweek.
The New York Times piece states that intelligence reports show that Chinese and Russian spies not only can listen to the calls, they have been listening to the calls.
I suppose Trump will say this photo was altered by the Democrats. China, if you’re listening, release transcripts of his cell phone calls. pic.twitter.com/VU4l3OMIED
— LINDA HODGE (@HODGE4L) October 25, 2018
Trump fired off a tweet soon after the article was published, saying the “story is soooo wrong!” and claiming that he rarely uses cell phones. Of course, the tweets were posted from a cell phone, according to Business Insider. Trump is rather well-known for posting to Twitter using his cell phone, so his statement was met with much ridicule.
A spokesperson for the Chinese Foreign Ministry says the NYT report is “fake news,” according to CNN, a sentiment that Trump also echoed on his Twitter feed.
Intelligence reports say that China is frequently listening to Trump’s calls, and using what they hear in an effort to find out how to influence him. China and the U.S. are currently involved in a trade war that’s been having a significant effect on the economies of both countries.
China also offered some words of wisdom for the president, saying that if there’s a problem with security on Trump’s Apple iPhone, he can always switch to the Chinese brand Huawei.
The report says that aides for Trump have frequently told him to stop using an unsecured cell phone for his chats because spies are often listening. Trump’s response to them may be similar to the one he gave to the article itself. He called it “long and boring,” according to CNBC.
From the campaign trail in 2016, Trump famously attacked then-presidential candidate Hillary Clinton for unsecured communications. Clinton came under fire for using a private email address and server while serving as Secretary of State under President Barack Obama, a fact which prompted Trump and his supporters to scream “lock her up” at campaign events. Trump supports are still echoing this sentiment while he stops at political rallies around the country ahead of the upcoming midterm elections.