The New York Times published a troubling report yesterday alleging that President Trump uses off-the-shelf iPhones to talk with friends and that both Russian and Chinese spies are listening to Trump’s phone calls to figure out how to manipulate him. But China would like the American president to know that if he’s worried about security, he can always switch to Huawei.
“If they are very worried about iPhones being tapped, they can use Huawei,” China spokeswoman Hua Chunying said, according to a researcher at the Washington Post.
The comment is perhaps the most masterful troll of the New Cold War era, especially considering the many warnings from the U.S. Congress that Huawei devices aren’t secure and that the company is manipulated by the Chinese government. Best Buy has stopped carrying Huawei devices as many in the U.S. intelligence community consider the Chinese electronics maker to be a national security threat.
Chinese officials have denied that the country is spying on Trump’s phones and have even used the president’s favorite phrase, calling the allegations “fake news.”
President Trump’s lax information security has become quite an issue, and yesterday’s report in the Times illustrates how China is using friends of Trump’s friends in an effort to manipulate his policies. By listening to his phone calls, Chinese spies are able to determine what kind of methods of persuasion do and don’t work on the famously ignorant president.
From the New York Times:
The officials said they have also determined that China is seeking to use what it is learning from the calls — how Mr. Trump thinks, what arguments tend to sway him and to whom he is inclined to listen — to keep a trade war with the United States from escalating further. In what amounts to a marriage of lobbying and espionage, the Chinese have pieced together a list of the people with whom Mr. Trump regularly speaks in hopes of using them to influence the president, the officials said.
Among those on the list are Stephen A. Schwarzman, the Blackstone Group chief executive who has endowed a master’s program at Tsinghua University in Beijing, and Steve Wynn, the former Las Vegas casino magnate who used to own a lucrative property in Macau.
President Trump has even lost his phone on the golf course, according to the New York Times.
Last year, Mr. Trump’s cellphone was left behind in a golf cart at his club in Bedminster, N.J., causing a scramble to locate it, according to two people familiar with what took place.
Mr. Trump is supposed to swap out his two official phones every 30 days for new ones but rarely does, bristling at the inconvenience.
Then-candidate Trump would often criticize Hillary Clinton for her poor security during the 2016 presidential election. And even to this day Trump’s neo-fascist style rallies often include chants of “lock her up” for Clinton’s unspecified crimes. So news that Trump is literally just leaving his phone on the golf course is particularly ironic.
As the New Cold War rages on, we can expect more sarcastic banter between American and Chinese technology and communications companies. And we can also expect President Trump to continue practicing terrible opsec. An old dog doesn’t learn new tricks, especially when that dog was born into money and never hears the word “no.”
Trump’s not just the dumbest president America has ever had, he’s also the most dangerous to the safety and security of the United States. And that’s to say nothing of his continued incitement of unhinged lunatics planting bombs all over New York City.
Trump isn’t on the ballot in this November’s 2018 midterm elections, but it will no doubt be seen as a referendum on Trump’s policies of discrimination and hatred. For America’s sake, we can only hope that a decisive victory for the Democrats creates a return to normalcy. Or as close to normal as we can get in these bizarre times of division and chaos.
At least we can dream.
Update, 7:57am: Trump sent out a tweet this morning denying the New York Times report in typical Trumpian fashion:
As for President Trump’s claims that he “doesn’t have time” to correct the supposed lies, Trump is known for watching TV for hours on end. And he’s doing non-stop rallies and dinners from now until the midterm elections on November 6, 2018. Tonight, for instance, he’s got a dinner with supporters at the White House. But you already knew that. Trump simply can’t keep himself from lying.
Update, 10:00am: Trump has tweeted about the New York Times story again, claiming that he “rarely” uses a cellphone.