In a new report from The New York Times that should be absolutely stunning but which is hardly surprising given what we know of Trump’s incompetent administration, it’s been revealed that Chinese spies frequently listen in on the president’s phone calls. According to the bombshell story, Trump has refused to stop using unsecured iPhones to call friends despite aides warning him that they pose a major security risk.
“But aides say the voluble president, who has been pressured into using his secure White House landline more often these days, has still refused to give up his iPhones. White House officials say they can only hope he refrains from discussing classified information when he is on them,” write Matthew Rosenberg and Maggie Haberman of The Times.
The sources who revealed this inexcusable breach in security protocols said that they aren’t revealing the information in the hopes of sabotaging Trump or his agenda, but out of a real sense of frustration over the risks posed by his cell phone behavior.
“Officials said the president has two official iPhones that have been altered by the National Security Agency to limit their capabilities — and vulnerabilities — and a third personal phone that is no different from hundreds of millions of iPhones in use around the world. Mr. Trump keeps the personal phone, White House officials said, because unlike his other two phones, he can store his contacts in it,” reports The Times.
American intelligence has learned that Chinese operatives eavesdrop in the hopes of gaining insight into how Trump thinks and in order to learn how to best influence him and his policies. Specifically, the spies are trying to use Trump’s private calls to develop a strategy that will de-escalate the Sino-American trade war. The efforts are part of a hybrid campaign to combine espionage with influence operations and close friends of Trump have become targets.
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The Chinese are hoping to get to Trump obliquely, by influencing the friends of his friends. By slipping talking points and pro-Chinese arguments to friends of Blackstone Group head Stephen A. Schwarzman and former Las Vegas businessman Steve Wynn, they hope that both Schwarzman and Wynn will then in turn pass along the desired sentiments to their friend Donald Trump.
The Times reports that Russia is also spying on Trump, but that their efforts pale in comparison to the Chinese’s because the president’s friendly relationship with Vladimir Putin means they’re already able to influence Trump to a reasonable degree.
Clearly, Trump is an unrepentant messy buffoon who should have never been trusted with such power in the first place. During the 2016 election, he slammed Hillary Clinton over her the security of her emails and once in power he immediately started making mistakes a thousand times more egregious. Trump is a gift that keeps on giving to our enemies and a major threat to the American people.
Original reporting Matthew Rosenberg and Maggie Haberman.