The bad news: If this is true, it may be a worse security breach than Hillary’s private email server.
The good news: Thanks to Russia and Wikileaks, we’ll eventually get to find out what Trump and Hannity chat about before bedtime.
He has two phones, says Politico, one for phone calls and one for Twitter. From there things get hairy:
While aides have urged the president to swap out the Twitter phone on a monthly basis, Trump has resisted their entreaties, telling them it was “too inconvenient,” the same administration official said.
The president has gone as long as five months without having the phone checked by security experts. It is unclear how often Trump’s call-capable phones, which are essentially used as burner phones, are swapped out…
Trump’s call-capable cellphone has a camera and microphone, unlike the White House-issued cellphones used by Obama. Keeping those components creates a risk that hackers could use them to access the phone and monitor the president’s movements. The GPS location tracker, however — which can be used to track the president’s whereabouts — is disabled on Trump’s devices.
Convenience is precisely the excuse Hillary gave to explain her server when news about it first began percolating three years ago.
The White House claims that the risk is being exaggerated. Security tech is better now than it was even two years ago, said one source to Politico, and Trump’s call-only phone is swapped out on a regular basis. Politico spoke to various security experts, though, and all of them are antsy about Trump’s protocols to greater or lesser degrees. Needless to say, while security tech may be marginally better than it was in 2016, hacking tech is doubtless better too.
Two questions. One: *Why* does Trump’s call-only phone still have a camera? The mic, I assume, is integral to the call function (which Obama’s phone wasn’t capable of) but the camera is inexplicable. If the White House disabled the camera for Obama as a matter of basic security, naturally it would seek to disable it for Trump. Did Trump request that the camera and mic be left in place? What conceivable reason would he have for that? Is he video-chatting with friends?
Two: Politico’s sources for the phone scoop are “two senior administration officials,” which is what you’d expect when it comes to info as closely held as the president’s phone practices. Unless you think his staff is now so dysfunctional that they’d lie about something like this purely to embarrass him, this is probably their version of an intervention. Just as some of his aides reportedly try to get themselves booked on TV when they have a point they want to drive home to him, believing that he’s more likely to absorb it if it comes through via the boob tube (which is itself freakishly dysfunctional), leaking to Politico to sound the red alert publicly may be the only way to get him to change his habits.
I wonder if one of those senior administration officials is John Kelly. Kelly got dinged for his own poor security habits last year, you may recall, when (who else?) Politico reported that his cell phone had likely been compromised. (I wrote at the time, “I expected a ‘hackers breach White House phone’ story at some point this year. I just didn’t think it would be John Kelly’s phone instead of POTUS’s.” Welp.) That’s why the story today about Trump’s practices is so urgent: In case there was any doubt that hackers are trying to access the phones of top White House personnel *and* that they’re capable of doing it, last year’s Kelly saga eliminates it. Maybe Kelly himself is alarmed that Trump hasn’t learned from his own mistake.
The reaction within the GOP to this report will be a microcosm of the party’s reaction to everything in the Trump era. First, despite the alarm, Trump will continue to carry on business as usual and no one will really try to stop him because, at the end of the day, he’s going to do what he wants to do. Second, after a little uncomfortable hemming and hawing, GOPers will ignore it and forget about it entirely. About 90 percent of the things the party pretends to care about — cutting spending, basic security protocols by high government officials — they “care” about only insofar as those things can be used as cudgels against Democrats. President Hillary using an insecure phone? Congressional hearings tomorrow. Trump using one? Eh, I’m sure he knows what he’s doing.