"This is potentially a goldmine of intelligence." Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper tells CNN's @DonLemon that President Trump using a personal cell phone could potentially leak confidential information if it's not encrypted. https://t.co/HMzvdddpQB pic.twitter.com/wB9DKMRhGC— CNN Tonight (@CNNTonight) April 24, 2018
Things seem a bit tense between President Donald Trump and White House Chief Of Staff John Kelly.
The commander-in-chief has reportedly been using his personal cellphone to contact lawmakers, friends and advisers outside the West Wing instead of following the government-approved communication protocol – and it might have something to do with Kelly.
Earlier this year, the retired Marine Corps general, who once jokingly expressed his regret over leaving the Department of Homeland Security to join Trump by saying “I did something wrong and God punished me,” downgraded Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner's security clearances.
To the Trump family, this move reportedly felt like a “betrayal,” which widened the already growing rift between the president and his aide, claimed the sources at the time.
According to the CNN, a source recently revealed Trump has begun using his personal phone instead of using the White House switchboard because “he doesn’t want Kelly to know who he’s talking to.”
As the Huff Post pointed out, the Kelly can obtain a log of everyone Trump has called through that switchboard. However, if Trump uses his own phone, he can easily bypass Kelly – or anyone else, for that matter.
“He uses it a lot more often more recently,” a senior official told CNN, adding Trump “is talking to all sorts of people on it” and these private calls are a “recent development.”
At least three officials also said Trump is now directly reaching out to the Republican lawmakers at a renewed pace.
“Basically, at this point, he's just sort of engaging on his own,” said a source. “Kelly used to be more clearly the gatekeeper than he is now from a Hill standpoint ... I don't know that [Trump] even is running it by the chief of staff anymore.”
During a recent interview with the network, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper called the reports “troubling.”
“He may be keeping things from his chief of staff, but he will elicit the interest of foreign intelligence services,” he told host Don Lemon. “This is potentially a gold mine of intelligence for them. Even if he is using some kind of secure app, there’s all kind of inferential things you can derive from the fact he’s doing that ... even if you don’t get the content.”
Thumbnail/Banner Credits: Reuters, Carlos Barria