Donald Trump, a toddler who poses for pictures as if his hands were two very heavy Easter hams, is bad at almost every aspect of his job. That said, this recent development isn’t surprising as much as it is disappointing: it appears that President Trump has been urging world leaders to call him directly on his personal cell phone.
The Associated Press reports that Trump has given out his personal cell phone number to a wide variety of world leaders, in a move that diverges from diplomatic protocol and raises very valid concerns about the security of communications in the Trump White House. So far, Trump has slipped his number to Canada and Mexico, the AP reports, and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has been the only one to take the bait. Trump also gave his number to Emmanuel Macron when they chatted after Macron’s victory, but sources would not confirm to the AP whether or not Macron had taken it upon himself to use it.
As per protocol, phone calls between world leaders are carefully orchestrated affairs, planned weeks in advance; they’re arranged it this way so that world leaders can speak about important and private matters on a secure line.
“If you are speaking on an open line, then it’s an open line, meaning those who have the ability to monitor those conversations are doing so,” said Derek Chollet, a former Pentagon adviser and National Security Council official now at the German Marshall Fund of the United States.
A president “doesn’t carry with him a secure phone,” Chollet said. “If someone is trying to spy on you, then everything you’re saying, you have to presume that others are listening to it.”
The AP also notes that Trump’s practice of handing out his cell number to whoever will have it opens him up to “charges of hypocrisy,” citing Trump’s reaction to Hillary Clinton’s emails as proof; even if this is true (it is), somehow everyone seems to be conveniently ignoring items that, in different times, would dominate the news cycle for weeks. The Presidential Records Act of 1981 requires that a president keep archives of all records and communications related to their office. A fun fact: this act was passed in response to Watergate. Another fun fact: this law reportedly contains several “blind spots,” per George Washington University Law School professor Jonathan Turley, who noted that those blind spots specifically refer to direct cell phone communications.
For a White House plagued by leaks and hindered by an unwieldy and potentially(hopefully!!) damaging investigation into Russian meddling into the election, you’d think that somehow, someone would’ve taken note of this unusual method of communication and done some shit to keep it in check. Alas, that is not the world we live in.
Donald Trump loves to conduct meetings in the dining room of Mar-a-Lago, feeding the president of China chocolate cake while bombing Syria. Donald Trump’s staff has to work overtime to keep him from watching so much cable news and making bad tweets on his iPhone, just like your racist father-in-law, but worse, because he’s the president. Donald Trump’s precious, unctuous and weaselly son-in-law Jared Kushner wanted to set up a secret communication line between the Kremlin and the White House. I feel we gloss over this every now and again, only to focus on the specifics, but it’s important to have a gentle reminder of the bigger picture: Donald Trump is unfit to be president. Please make this nightmare end in some capacity sooner rather than later.