Cellphone security concerns for President Trump


The president has been giving his mobile phone number to world leaders and urging them to call him directly, the Associated Press reported Tuesday.

Trump urged Canadian and Mexican leaders to call his cellphone, former and current US officials with direct knowledge of the practice told the the news wire, adding that only Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has utilized the direct communication line.

It's a breach in protocol that national security experts officials say leaves the president's conversations highly susceptible to eavesdropping.

Unlike secure lines in the Oval Office and the Situation Room, Trump's White House-issued cellphone could be snooped on by foreign spies or even United States intelligence, according to a security expert. Trump's government-issued iPhone doesn't have the same level of protection.

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The AP reported that the White House did not respond to questions on whether the president is keeping records of calls made with world leaders on his cell phone. State Department and National Security Council officials typically prepare scripted talking points and background on the leader on the other end of the line. It was unclear whether such a phone call would be logged and archived under the Presidential Records Act of 1981, which passed in response to the Watergate scandal.

The President's own son-in-law, White House senior staffer Jared Kushner, is under Federal Bureau of Investigation scrutiny for his alleged attempts to open a secret communication channel with the Kremlin. The person demanded anonymity because the person was not authorized to discuss the sensitive conversation by name. Though he won partly by raising concerns about his opponent's reckless use of private communications devices, Trump fought to keep his old Android phone after taking office.

Last week, a leaked transcript of Trump's phone call with his Philippine counterpart, Rodrigo Duterte, revealed his candid communication style in the White House.

It was unclear whether an impromptu, informal call with a foreign leader would be logged and archived. Another fun fact: this law reportedly contains several "blind spots", per George Washington University Law School professor Jonathan Turley, who noted that those blind spots specifically refer to direct cell phone communications. "Sometimes it takes presidents longer to figure that out".