President Trump apparently wants world leaders to call him on his cell phone. The president gave out his number to several world leaders, including French President Emmanuel Macron and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
According to a report from the Associated Press, Trump urged the leaders to reach him directly on his cell phone, rather than using more traditional lines of communication. While it might not seem like a big deal, it actually is. Not only is it rather hypocritical, it raises security concerns and breaks diplomatic protocol.
Trump notably criticized his opponent Hillary Clinton for using a private email server that she could access on her cell phone. He argued that Clinton’s supposed disregard for protocol should keep her from knowing about any classified information.
But it seems Trump is above such hypocrisy. Former Pentagon official Derek Chollet explained to the AP, “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.”
An Invitation To Monitor His Phone Calls
Trump handing out his cell number to foreign leaders is basically an invitation for them to monitor his calls. A law professor at the University of Virginia explained, “it’s reasonable to assume that they’d hand [the cell number] right over to their intel service.”
The President of the United States almost always uses one of several secure phone lines to converse with other world leaders. These lines include one in the White House Situation Room, the Oval Office, and the presidential limo. These lines aren’t vulnerable to eavesdropping. However, Trump’s cell phone definitely is.
Caution is needed for phone conversations, even when talking with allies. German Chancellor Angela Merkel learned this the hard way in 2013. Edward Snowden’s NSA leak revealed that the United States was monitoring her phone. Unfortunately, we’ve already seen just how much Trump cares for protocol and security against potential leaks.
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