Trump’s iPhone: China is listening
President Trump’s reckless use of his cellphone is “mind-boggling,” said Paul Waldman in WashingtonPost.com. Despite repeated warnings from security officials, Trump insists on calling confidants from his unsecured iPhone, and The New York Times reports that U.S. spy agencies have discovered that Russia and China routinely listen in. Not very long ago, Trump and the Republicans insisted that Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server was criminal because it potentially exposed secrets to foreign surveillance, and chants of “Lock her up!” have become “to Trump rallies what ‘Free Bird’ is to Lynyrd Skynyrd concerts.” So why have Republican congressmen, and conservative pundits, reacted to this news with hypocritical silence? Trump could just use a secured landline to call his chums, said Jonathan Bernstein in Bloomberg.com, but he doesn’t want his aides knowing whom he calls, and his iPhone contains his list of contacts. So he’s “jeopardizing national security to avoid the minor inconvenience of dialing.” It’s yet another reminder that Trump is “wildly unfit for office.”
Democrats are “in no position” to criticize Trump’s phone use, “having defended Clinton’s egregious and deliberate flouting” of security protocols, said WeeklyStandard.com in an editorial. Nonetheless, Trump is putting the country at risk as he gabs away on his unsecured iPhone, and “the Chinese take careful notes,” hoping for insights they can use to influence him. Trump doesn’t seem to have “drawn any lessons” from Clinton’s irresponsible conduct, said Noah Rothman in CommentaryMagazine.com. A president blabbing away on a cellphone whose calls can be easily intercepted is “the stuff of waking nightmares for America’s security professionals.” Ironically, Trump has correctly pointed out that China’s hacking, intelligence gathering, and influence campaigns within the U.S. pose an “acute” threat to our country.
So where are the “Lock him up!” chants? asked Jonathan Chait in NYMag.com. News of foreign adversaries eavesdropping on the president’s calls “should obviously dismay the information security fanatics” who were so indignant about Clinton’s email server. The “good news,” say White House aides, is that Trump can’t possibly be “giving away much of value” on these calls because he pays little attention to intelligence briefings and knows little about our nation’s military and covert operations. The bad news is that Trump’s helping China surveil him “is probably not even one of the 100 worst things he’s done, so far.”