The White House / Flickr trump talking on phone on air force one...
The White House / Flickr

Donald Trump is a troll. That’s obvious every day, but Trump has rarely made it so obvious as he did with this tweet.

This was just one of several messages Trump tweeted out this morning in which he claimed that he “rarely” uses a mobile phone. And he sent them all, as he has thousands of other tweets, from his personal cellphone. The signature on these messages shows clearly that they were sent using the Twitter app on the iPhone. Trump tweeted from a cellphone about how he doesn’t use a cellphone. And then he did it again.

What Trump is doing in these tweets isn’t just a lie, it—like his recent stories of Democrats giving out cars to undocumented immigrants, or the claims that the “caravan” of would-be immigrants is loaded with Middle Eastern terrorists—is an obvious lie. A completely in-your-face-reality public divorce from facts. A challenge to anyone paying the least attention to raise an objection … which Trump will likely use to accuse them of not being “civil.”

Donald Trump uses a personal cellphone. He did so during the campaign. He did so after taking office. He’s done so over the objections of the intelligence community and the pleas of his own staff. He’s done so even though it endangers the nation—and he doesn’t care. Because why should he. He can simply do what he does on every other issue. He can lie and get away with it.

Who cares if the New York Times reports that both Russia and China are listening in on Trump’s calls. For Trump the more important thing is that he gets to accuse the press of lying. Even if he has to lie to do it.

After taking office, Trump continued to use his personal phone in the White House, over the objections of security officials and intelligence officers. Since then Trump has switched … to another personal phone. One that he continues to use to call Sean Hannity, Lou Dobbs, and others for long, late-night chats. And those chats may not be limited to just his pals. In April, Trump stated publicly that he had given Kim Jong Un his direct number. That same month, White House officials noted that Trump was increasing his use of his personal phone—and that he intentionally used his cell phone to hide his conversations from Chief of Staff John Kelly.

During the early days of Kelly’s tenure, multiple sources said, Trump made many of his calls from the White House switchboard — a tactic that allowed the chief of staff to receive a printed list of who Trump had phoned. Kelly has less insight into who Trump calls on his personal cell phone.

The CNN story also indicated that Trump uses his personal cell phone in reaching out to Republican senators to secure their vote. Those discussions, including whatever threats and promises have been made, are almost certainly in the hands of whatever nations—friends and foes—that could be bothered to make the minimal effort to listen in. Russia no longer has to work so hard to generate kompromat. Because Trump is creating it for them.

As the Times story reports, it’s not just that Chinese and Russian agents have listened in on Trump. Trump has been told that his persistent use of an unshielded personal phone allows them to listen in.

Mr. Trump’s aides have repeatedly warned him that his cellphone calls are not secure, and they have told him that Russian spies are routinely eavesdropping on the calls, as well.

But Trump is so disinterested in listening to anyone else, or admitting the truth of what he’s doing, he denied the report from his cellphone. It’s not ignorance. It’s just hubris of a scale that demands to be measured like earthquakes—by the amount of damage it causes.

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This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.


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