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NY Times claims China, Russia spy on Trump’s cell phone calls – he refutes

President Donald Trump talks on the phone aboard Air Force One during a flight to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to address a joint gathering of House and Senate Republicans, Thursday, January 26, 2017. This was the President’s first trip aboard Air Force One. (Shealah Craighead/White House)
October 25, 2018

A New York Times report released Wednesday contends that China and Russia are spying on President Trump’s cell phone conversations.

The report claims that several of President Trump’s aides have warned him of cell phone security vulnerabilities, yet he allegedly continues to use his cell phone despite warnings of Chinese and Russian spies listening to his calls.

Numerous former and current aides reportedly spoke anonymously to NYT and expressed frustration over the President’s continued cell phone use after U.S. intelligence agencies discovered evidence of China and Russia eavesdropping on the calls.

However, President Trump refuted the claims Thursday morning.

“The so-called experts on Trump over at the New York Times wrote a long and boring article on my cellphone usage that is so incorrect I do not have time here to correct it. I only use Government Phones, and have only one seldom used government cell phone. Story is soooo wrong!” the President tweeted.

A few hours later, he issued another tweet, saying, “The New York Times has a new Fake Story that now the Russians and Chinese (glad they finally added China) are listening to all of my calls on cellphones. Except that I rarely use a cellphone, & when I do it’s government authorized. I like Hard Lines. Just more made up Fake News!”

The officials who spoke with NYT say that President Trump has two iPhones for official administration use, both of which were modified by National Security Agency officials to address security vulnerabilities. However, he also has a personal iPhone that he maintains and uses to store contacts – a feature that has been deactivated by the official, modified phones.

Cell phone calls can be intercepted as the signal moves through networks, and is considered an easy task for government agencies. This is well-known among foreign governments, which is why foreign leaders avoid cell phone usage.

U.S. intelligence agencies themselves frequently attempt to intercept calls of foreign leaders. Documents leaked by Edward Snowden during the Obama Administration revealed that the U.S. had successfully spied on the phone of German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

In June, a Department of Homeland Security study reported the discovery of surveillance devices near the White House and other locations deemed sensitive. The devices were designed to intercept cell phone communications, according to The Washington Post.

Officials did say that President Trump does not use emails, and his phone can only connect through a secured Wi-Fi connection, reducing his risk for some breaches such as phishing attacks.