Trump on claims that Russia and China are listening in on his calls: I hardly ever use a cell phone

The president wouldn’t lie, would he?

In case you missed it here’s last night’s post about the NYT story to which he’s referring, a shocker alleging that U.S. intelligence knows for a fact that Russian and Chinese intel are monitoring his private calls and that Trump simply doesn’t care enough to change his habits. This tweet is unfair but made me laugh:


That’s unfair according to the Times’s own reporting. He has two iPhones, they noted in yesterday’s story, one for tweeting and other apps and the other for phone calls. Tweeting from one phone doesn’t necessarily mean he’s been using the other to dial people up.

But there are lots of reports elsewhere over the past year of him doing just that. One from October 2017:

“The president has started to call people more on the weekends, from the cellphone, which he didn’t used to do,” the source told the newspaper, saying Trump often calls Hannity after the host’s nightly show.

Trump has reportedly begun to place more private phone calls as tensions rise with chief of staff John Kelly, who has attempted to bring order to Trump’s White House, the newspaper reported.

That last part corroborates a key detail from the Times’s report, which was that Trump resorts to the cell phone “when he does not want a call going through the White House switchboard and logged for senior aides to see.” Kelly tried acting as a “gatekeeper” for the president when he was first brought on as chief of staff, but as relations between them deteriorated and Trump felt more confident in his job, he chafed at being babysat. So now, if he wants to talk to someone and doesn’t want Kelly to know about it, there’s an easy option. He’s got his iPhone.


Another report from April of this year:

President Donald Trump is increasingly relying on his personal cell phone to contact outside advisers, multiple sources inside and outside the White House told CNN, as Trump returns to the free-wheeling mode of operation that characterized the earliest days of his administration.

“He uses it a lot more often more recently,” a senior White House official said of the President’s cell phone.

“He doesn’t want Kelly to know who he’s talking to,” said CNN’s source when asked why Trump had begun to use his iPhone more avidly. What makes this extra surreal is that there will be people on your television today who likely know for a fact whether the president lied to the country in his tweet this morning and who could report it as a scoop for the news network that pays their salary. How often does Hannity call, or get a call from, Trump’s cell phone? How often do Tucker or Judge Jeanine or the “Fox & Friends” hosts? If they’d rather not wade into this alarming story with the unusual personal knowledge they have about whether it’s true or not, would they at least concede that it’d be horrible malpractice from a security standpoint for Trump to use his personal cell phone to chat?

Because if so, the next question is: If the president said something to you on his cell about a sensitive matter (which his advisors are worried about), why would you continue to participate in those calls and let him risk jeopardizing national security? Hannity ran a few segments back in the day chastising Hillary Clinton for her horribly irresponsible email practices, as I recall.


Although maybe there’s an easy counter to all of this: Since China and Russia know who all of Trump’s chat buddies are, they’re probably just intercepting their calls. Why go to the trouble of hacking POTUS when you can hack Hannity instead and listen in that way?

As I said last night, Democrats will want answers about all of this next year if they retake the House. Intel people will be subpoenaed to testify about his phone practices and their concerns about it. So will former aides — and some won’t be reluctant to talk. Your exit quotation, and a sneak preview of the inevitable hearings:

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John Stossel 12:40 AM | April 12, 2024