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Dem reps seek answers on Trump's cell phone use

Two Democratic lawmakers are inquiring about the steps the White House is taking to make sure President Donald Trump'...

Posted: Apr 25, 2018 12:38 PM
Updated: Apr 25, 2018 12:38 PM

Two Democratic lawmakers are inquiring about the steps the White House is taking to make sure President Donald Trump's personal communications are protected after it was reported that Trump has ramped up the use of his personal cell phone.

Wednesday morning, Reps. Ted Lieu of California and Ruben Gallego of Arizona sent a letter asking the heads of the White House Communications Agency, the Secret Service and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence several questions about their security protocol for the President's communications.

Among the questions for the WHCA, the congressmen ask if Trump is tweeting from a vetted, secure device to deter "spearfishing," if his phone is prevented from joining open and vulnerable wireless networks, if his personal communications are encrypted, and if his personal phone is screened after traveling abroad.

In addition, the letter asks the ODNI if Trump leaves his personal phone outside a secured briefing room during classified briefings and if their office has conducted a review of threats posed by his personal phone use. It also asks the Secret Service what steps the organization is taking to ensure Trump's safety is not compromised through geolocation "or other means."

Earlier this week, multiple sources inside and outside the White House told CNN that Trump has become increasingly reliant on his personal phone to contact outside advisers.

Sources cited Trump's stepped-up cell phone use as an example of chief of staff John Kelly's waning influence over who gets access to the President. 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.

Three US government officials told Politico last fall that Kelly's personal cell phone was compromised. And in January, Kelly spearheaded a White House ban on staffers using personal cell phones in the West Wing.

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