Trump has already urged the leaders of Canada and Mexico to call him on his cellphone, former and current US officials told AP. According to the sources, only Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has taken advantage of the offer.
According to French sources, Trump also exchanged numbers with French President Emmanuel Macron.
In the diplomatic arena, a world leader communicating with other leaders via unsecured mobile phones is a breach of protocol. Making calls via unofficial communications channels makes Trump’s conversations extremely vulnerable to eavesdropping, including by foreign intelligence, experts say.
"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. … If someone is trying to spy on you, then everything you’re saying, you have to presume that others are listening to it," Derek Chollet, a former Pentagon adviser and National Security Council official, told AP.
Another breach of protocol by an impulsive state leader has sparked numerous reactions from social media users.
For example, some users expressed bewilderment over the report, including drawing parallels between the situation and Trump’s allegations over Hillary Clinton using private email servers.
Trump does not realize how easily monitored a cell phone is. I find that disturbing. At this point he has no excuse not to know.— Mark S. Novak (@Marknovakusa) 31 мая 2017 г.
worried about the security of Hillary's emails, Trump giving out his unsecured easily tapped cell phone # instead of the official secure one https://t.co/XnyYVSKi7h— Scott Thompson (@scottsROW) 31 мая 2017 г.
The security concerns about Trump's cell phone are real but the diplomatic concerns seem a little bogus to me.— Timothy B. Lee (@binarybits) 31 мая 2017 г.
Trump uses an unsecured phone. Mishandles intel. Surrounded by collusion scandals. Don't let GOP ever tell you they care about security.— Jared Yates Sexton (@JYSexton) 31 мая 2017 г.
Trump's worried about his landlines being tapped, so he wants to be called on his cell phone for security reasons.— John Watson (@JohnWat21214927) 31 мая 2017 г.
Others just reacted with ironical remarks and jokes, not without mentioning the US president’s alleged ties with Russia.
Why is Trump giving world leaders his cell number when he can just summon their astral presences with the Orb?— Dave Weigel (@daveweigel) 31 мая 2017 г.
TRUMP: "Hey Vlad! I'm glad we exchanged numbers. Call me any time."— Ben (@BenHowe) 31 мая 2017 г.
PUTIN: "New phone, who dis?" https://t.co/mEAMA3iZiv
Can't wait til Angela Merkel calls Donald Trump's cell phone to ask if his refrigerator's running.— David Gordon (@MrDavidGordon) 31 мая 2017 г.
My theory: Covfefe is a third-world dictator that Trump gave his cell phone number to.— Jeff Dufour (@dcdufour) 31 мая 2017 г.
The President’s Communications
In the era of smartphones, email and video chats, the traditional phone remains one of the key instruments in the US president’s diplomatic toolbox. Presidents generally hold conversations, using one of the several secure phone lines, including in the Oval House or in the presidential limousine.
For example, Trump wants to talk to French leader Emmanuel Macron. He cannot simply call him on a mobile phone or send a couple of text messages.
In such cases, a special protocol is engaged where the staffs of both administrations, as well as other senior officials, need to lay the groundwork. If relations between the leaders are not that close an ambassador should make a formal request on behalf of the country’s leader. The sides discuss the agenda and reasons for the conversation. If agreed, the talks then need to be added to the busy schedule.
Moreover, the preparatory work includes providing a dossier on the leader the president wants to call. The document is prepared by the National Security Council (NSC). The file includes an intelligence portrait of the person, including information about their personality, health and loved ones.
Interestingly, since Watergate, phone calls by the US president have not been recorded, according to some sources. But up to three national security staffers and a presidential translator are usually listening to the audio and typing. Those records are preserved and archived.
Never miss a story again — sign up to our Telegram channel and we'll keep you up to speed!