Trump still uses his personal cell phone despite warnings and increased call scrutiny

President Donald Trump's phone calls with his lawyer Rudy Giuliani are sparking concerns about whether hostile foreign countries are listening in on their conversations. CNN's Brian Todd reports.

Posted: Dec 7, 2019 11:50 AM
Updated: Dec 7, 2019 11:50 AM

President Donald Trump has continued to use his personal cell phone to make calls, despite repeated warnings from his staff that the practice could leave him vulnerable to foreign surveillance, multiple officials told CNN.

The Democratic impeachment inquiry has resurrected concerns about the security and potential vulnerability of the President's communications. Witness testimony revealed some top officials repeatedly failed to follow protocol intended to prevent sensitive phone conversations, including those involving the President, from being intercepted by foreign intelligence services.

Several former US officials have told CNN it is highly likely that US Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland's cell phone call to Trump from a restaurant in Ukraine over the summer was picked up by intelligence agencies from numerous foreign countries, including Russia.

Normally, a US ambassador talking to the President would do so from the embassy using a secure line, one former intelligence official told CNN. Cell phones, the former official said, were much more vulnerable than calls made at secure communications facilities.

The lapse was only amplified by the fact that Sondland made the call in public, where it could have been easily overheard and in a foreign country that is already being targeted by foreign adversaries of the US, including Russia, current and former officials said.

And the House Intelligence Committee's recently released impeachment report includes phone records, which show a web of communications between conservative journalist John Solomon, Trump personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, Ukrainian American businessman Lev Parnas, the intelligence committee's top Republican, Rep. Devin Nunes, and the White House's budget office.

Congress' ability to subpoena Giuliani's call logs from cell phone companies suggests that the calls were not encrypted through an application service like Signal or Whatsapp, nor were the calls were made on a secure line.

It's unlikely that Giuliani's mobile phone was specially encrypted, and the logs indicate that the calls were not made via a secure line from an embassy. Even if the President was using a secured cell phone to call the former New York mayor, Giuliani's unsecured line exacerbates security concerns.

"All communications devices of all senior government officials are targeted by foreign governments. This is not new," Bryan Cunningham, executive director of the Cybersecurity Policy and Research Institute at the University of California-Irvine, told CNN last year.

"What is new in the cell phone age is the ease of intercepting them," Cunningham added. "Of course, calls are only secure if both parties use a secure device."

The phone records do not identify Trump by name, but House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff connected an "unidentified" number designated simply as "-1" in the logs to the President. But several members on the House Intelligence Committee told CNN that they did not know whether the numbers were traced to various individuals or who "-1" was.

Since taking office, Trump has been cautioned against unsecured lines multiple times. But he has continued to call people on a number he held since before his time in the White House, including making calls from that number in the last several weeks, people familiar with those calls say. He also has a second number he uses, which is government-issued.

On Friday evening, the President denied CNN's report, saying he hasn't used his personal cellphone in years.

"I haven't had a personal cell phone for years. Only use government approved and issued phones," Trump tweeted.

CNN stands by its reporting.

These are cell phones Trump has personally been issued. They are considered to be less secure than landline White House phones presidents typically use, and he has been cautioned against using them to make secure calls, sources tell CNN.

CNN previously reported that Trump has given his personal number to foreign leaders on multiple occasions, outright ignoring security protocols. According to The Washington Post, Trump handing out his personal line led to one-on-one calls that even top White House aides did not know about.

The New York Times reported last year that Chinese and Russian spies have listened in on Trump's calls on his personal cell phone and the President's aides have told him that Russian spies were listening in on a regular basis.

Senior officials view moving Trump away from unsecure lines as a lost cause at this point, one person said. For a brief period earlier in his term, Trump agreed to stop using his personal device, but quit after he realized all of his calls could then be monitored on a call log list. Former White House chief of staff John Kelly had staff monitor the list routinely while he was still at the White House.

UPDATE: This story has been updated with more information about the cell phones the President uses.

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 173626

Reported Deaths: 2457
CountyCasesDeaths
Multnomah34641566
Washington23309229
Marion20037299
Clackamas15216204
Lane11478144
Jackson9846127
Umatilla795383
Deschutes698772
Linn410763
Yamhill407074
Malheur342558
Polk341752
Klamath340859
Josephine304262
Douglas302765
Benton272518
Jefferson205932
Coos196631
Columbia153326
Union141124
Lincoln129720
Wasco128628
Hood River112429
Morrow107815
Clatsop8838
Crook86819
Baker85114
Curry5919
Tillamook5763
Lake4137
Grant4044
Harney3046
Wallowa1575
Sherman570
Gilliam551
Wheeler251
Unassigned00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 3714587

Reported Deaths: 60922
CountyCasesDeaths
Los Angeles122811823601
Riverside2972154525
San Bernardino2944644544
San Diego2745663662
Orange2687624886
Santa Clara1167722013
Kern1077641317
Sacramento1010581646
Fresno1004311642
Alameda850891475
Ventura802301000
San Joaquin714311334
Contra Costa66839781
Stanislaus603061028
Tulare49383829
Monterey43260352
San Mateo41050560
San Francisco35947517
Santa Barbara33830446
Solano31875239
Merced31196452
Sonoma29632311
Imperial27920718
Kings22755245
Placer21751283
San Luis Obispo20917256
Madera16234239
Santa Cruz15554203
Marin13851226
Yolo13547199
Shasta11677217
Butte11529196
El Dorado9688109
Napa965479
Sutter9268109
Yuba609844
San Benito596963
Lassen566624
Tehama543056
Nevada444775
Tuolumne406664
Mendocino398747
Amador361646
Humboldt358737
Lake339943
Glenn235425
Colusa219216
Calaveras205551
Siskiyou194021
Inyo141738
Del Norte12747
Mono12734
Plumas6906
Modoc4884
Mariposa4197
Trinity3985
Sierra1100
Alpine880
Unassigned610
Medford
Partly Cloudy
80° wxIcon
Hi: 78° Lo: 39°
Feels Like: 78°
Brookings
Partly Cloudy
48° wxIcon
Hi: 73° Lo: 45°
Feels Like: 46°
Medford
Clear
80° wxIcon
Hi: 52° Lo: 27°
Feels Like: 78°
Medford
Partly Cloudy
80° wxIcon
Hi: 81° Lo: 38°
Feels Like: 78°
Klamath Falls
Clear
67° wxIcon
Hi: 64° Lo: 33°
Feels Like: 67°
Very warm Sunday
KDRV Radar
KDRV Fire Danger
KDRV Weather Cam

Community Events