NYTimes: China listens to Trump cellphone calls, tries to sway policy

Larry Hoffman
October 28, 2018

In addition, China is now believed to be using what it is learning from the calls - how Trump thinks, what arguments tend to sway him and to whom he is inclined to listen - to try to influence Trump and avoid a further escalation of a trade war, according to multiple current and former USA officials. She also sarcastically shared that if Americans are so anxious about iPhones being listened on, they could instead start using Huawei phones, one of China's most popular phone brands.

White House spokesman Hogan Gidley added that the Times report "presented inaccurate information about the President's cell phone and its usage".

Intelligence agency leaders and others have said they are concerned that Huawei and other Chinese companies may be beholden to the Chinese government or ruling Communist Party, raising the risk of espionage.

Donald Trump usually uses protected landlines, yet he did not refuse from personal phones.

Trump is using insecure cellular networks to make his calls - so if his lines have been tapped, it's a flaw in the cellular network protocols, not his choice of an iPhone as his personal device.

But despite China's amusing reaction, the NYT report raises serious alarms in regards to both President's Trump understanding of security protocols, but also the mobile telephony protocols, through which Chinese and Russian spies are allegedly spying on the president's mobile calls.

Trump's two official iPhones come with National Security Agency protections and it should be very hard for anyone to intercept conversations when he is using them. Hua Chunying, the spokesperson for the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs called it "fake news". "I only use Government Phones, and have only one seldom used government cell phone", he wrote.

American intelligence reports suggests Chinese spies are often tapping the President's calls, a New York Times article reports, as well as Russian agents. Dismissing the allegations, China suggested the president should start using a Chinese phone instead.

An attorney for Wynn told the Times that Wynn was retired and declined to comment, and a spokeswoman for Blackstone said Schwarzman "has been happy to serve as an intermediary on certain critical matters between the two countries at the request of both heads of state".

Those very same protocol flaws have been used in the past by United States intelligence agencies to spy on foreign officials, such as German Chancellor Angela Merkel, according to documents leaked by Edward Snowden -hence, the reason why White House security protocols view landlines as more secure systems.

As the report noted, Trump indicated to the Wall Street Journal this week that he had discretion about information transmitted through his phone.

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