Thursday, October 25, 2018

What did Donald Trump do today?

He lied about using an insecure phone from an insecure phone.

Yesterday, the New York Times reported that Trump was still--nearly two years into his presidency--using insecure cell phones, and that foreign governments like China and Russia were taking advantage of that fact to eavesdrop on him and psychologically manipulate him

In response, Trump tweeted that he "rarely use[s] a cellphone..."

In reality, it's long been known that Trump has given people his personal (and inherently insecure) cell phone number, the better to frustrate his own staff's attempts to control access to him. This is how, for example, he got pranked by comedian "Stuttering John" Melendez in July, who successfully pretended to be a U.S. senator--a hoax that never could have worked if Trump took calls through secure channels.

In the NYT article, some White House officials expressed hope that because Trump rarely listens to or remembers specific details of the sensitive information he's given, he couldn't be revealing them to the hostile foreign powers listening in on his calls. Unfortunately, as little as Trump may know about the day-to-day details of his job, he nevertheless appears to be giving foreign spies very valuable information in the process of venting to Fox News hosts and other confidants.

Trump routinely calls for Hillary Clinton to be jailed because as Secretary of State she used a private e-mail server that could have been hacked, but was not.

Why does this matter?

  • Past a certain point, a lie can be so obvious that it's more of an insult than an attempt to deceive.
  • A president's personal cell phone preference is actually less important than keeping America's military and diplomatic secrets safe from hostile foreign powers.