Politics

Trump's Use Of Personal Phone Raises Security Concerns

| by Alex Scarr

President Donald Trump urged other world leaders to call him on his personal cellphone, prompting security concerns.

After recent stops with North American diplomats, Trump has been offering his personal cellphone number to the leaders of Mexico and Canada, suggesting they call him on that line rather than the various secure lines in the White House, according to The Associated Press.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has reportedly taken Trump up on the offer, but has been the only one so far.

Trump's preference for his personal phone, rather than official White House phones, has raised security and secrecy concerns within members of the intelligence community. Unsecured lines, they say, must be treated as if someone were listening in to every conversation. Often, they are.

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"If you are speaking on an open line, then it’s an open line, meaning those who have the ability to monitor those conversations are doing so,” said Derek Chollet, a former Pentagon adviser and National Security Council official. "If someone is trying to spy on you, then everything you’re saying, you have to presume that others are listening to it."

Chollet also noted that Trump does not carry a secured phone. He has been issued a government cellphone, as well as access to secure lines inside the Oval Office, the White House Situation Room and the Presidential Limousine.

Trump reportedly exchanged cellphone numbers with recently elected French President Emmanuel Macron during their recent meeting at the G7 summit in Brussels. It was not immediately clear if Macron would use the line.

"If you are Macron or the leader of any country and you get the cellphone number of the president of the United States, it’s reasonable to assume that they’d hand it right over to their intel service," said Ashley Deeks, a law professor at the University of Virginia and former legal adviser in the U.S. State Department.

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Trump's instruction to call him on his cellphone also demonstrates a displeasure for formal political diplomacy.

Trump spent much of his time on the campaign trail criticizing Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton for her use of a personal email server to conduct official business while she served as secretary of state. As MSNBC points out, Trump is now using an unsecured personal phone to conduct official business. 

And Deeks says most governmental guidelines are in place for good reason.

"Government sometimes looks like a big bureaucracy that has stupid rules, but a lot of these things are in place for very good reasons and they’ve been around for a while and determine the most effective way to do business in the foreign policy sphere,” said Deeks. "Sometimes it takes presidents longer to figure that out."

Sources: AP, MSNBC / Photo credit: Pixabay

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