American spy agencies have determined that Russia and China have been eavesdropping on phone calls made from President Trump’s iPhone in order to gain information that they can use to influence American policy, according to a bombshell New York Times report.
Trump’s aides have repeatedly warned him that cellphone calls made from his three personal iPhones are not secure and that Russian spies are routinely listening in on the calls. Despite the repeated warnings, aides say the president refuses to give up his iPhones, reports the Times. Trump continues to use them to chat with friends and confidantes.
Several current and former officials, who spoke to the Times on the condition of anonymity so they could discuss classified intelligence and sensitive security arrangements, say China “is seeking to use what it is learning from the calls — how Mr. Trump thinks, what arguments tend to sway him and to whom he is inclined to listen — to keep a trade war with the United States from escalating further. In what amounts to a marriage of lobbying and espionage, the Chinese have pieced together a list of the people with whom Mr. Trump regularly speaks in hopes of using them to influence the president, the officials said.”
Among those on the list are Stephen A. Schwarzman and Steve Wynn, businessmen and friends who Trump speaks with regularly.
The Hill notes that “Chinese businessmen have been deployed to feed strategic messages to both men in the hopes that they will then report pro-Chinese arguments to the president.”
A spokeswoman for Schwartzman, who is a chief executive with asset management company Blackstone Group, said he “has been happy to serve as an intermediary on certain critical matters between the two countries at the request of both heads of state.”
A lawyer for Wynn, a former casino magnate, provided no comment.
Officials told the Times that Trump has three iPhones, two of which have been made more secure by the National Security Agency, but a third iPhone that is no different than any other.