Donald Trump Refuses To Use Secure Smartphone For His Tweeting
President Donald Trump’s favorite pastime – tweeting – is done so from a White House phone that goes unchanged and unchecked for signs of hacking or surveillance for months at a time, two senior administration officials told Politico.
Officials said Trump uses at least to iPhones – one for making calls, another for Twitter and various news sites – and his call-capable phone is equipped with a camera and microphone. According to Politico, a senior West Wing official said Trump’s phones for calling are treated as “burner phones” and are “seamlessly swapped out on a regular basis through routine support operations.” However, even the use of an iPhone is a departure from the presidential norm, as having a camera and microphone opens the door to hacking and surveillance.
While Trump allows the White House Communications Agency (WHCA) to swap out one of his phones, he has continuously resisted swapping his Twitter phone or relinquishing it for security checks, calling it “too inconvenient.” Despite the West Wing official’s insistence that with current technology the president’s phone is more secure than anything from the Obama-era, the irony of Trump using a susceptible device after campaigning heavily on denouncing the fact that Hillary Clinton used private email servers is obvious.
“We can’t hand over our government to someone whose deepest, darkest secrets may be in the hands of our enemies,” Trump said of Clinton at one point. He also stated that he was certain China had hacked her email server and she was “putting all of America in our citizens in danger – great danger.”
While using a cell phone that is not as secure as it could be is not necessarily the same as using a private email server, the implications are similar: using such devices leaves a person of great interest in power susceptible to some sort of cyber attack. In a show of a great double standard, Trump refuses the same 30-day security checks that occurred during Barack Obama’s presidency to ensure nothing is compromised, even after insisting Clinton was putting America in danger.
“It’s baffling that Trump isn’t taking baseline cybersecurity measures at a time when he is trying to negotiate his way out of a trade war with China, a country that is known for using cyber tactics to gain the upper hand in business negotiations,” Samm Sacks, a China and technology expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, told Politico.
Defense Secretary James Mattis’ spokeswoman Dana White told reporters in February that “you have to also consider the fact that we have been attacked, bases have been attacked. Information is power and our adversaries have used information to plan attacks against us.” While the president has the right to decline taking the advice of officials and advisors, doing so may put information at risk.