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Chinese and Russian spies are listening into Donald Trump’s phone conversations, says US intelligence

President Donald Trump still uses his three iPhones — two official, one personal — on a regular basis to call friends, business partners and acquaintances, despite warnings from U.S. intelligence that Chinese and Russian agents may be privy to the president’s conversations.

Trump has been told numerous times that he should use the White House landline, according to a report which was published by the New York Times Wednesday, but he hasn’t heeded the warnings. Apparently, the intelligence officials resigned themselves to failure and asked the president not to talk about classified material on his iPhones.

According to the report, U.S. intelligence believes Trump’s conversations are being listened to by human sources coming from Russia and China. The report states that the reason the Chinese spies are doing this is likely to get a better understanding of Trump’s next move regarding the trade war with China. That way, they will be better equipped to influence the people around him.

“China’s effort is a 21st-century version of what officials there have been doing for many decades, which is trying to influence American leaders by cultivating an informal network of prominent business people and academics who can be sold on ideas and policy prescriptions and then carry them to the White House,” said the report. Knowing what Trump says on the phone, say officials, makes this job easier.

As far as Russia is concerned, intelligence officials believe that the country’s spying operation isn’t as sophisticated because Trump’s relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin isn’t exactly acrimonious.

Trump’s two official iPhones come with National Security Agency protections and it should be very difficult for anyone to intercept conversations when he is using them. The main concern is phone No. 3, which is a standard iPhone no different from the millions taking selfies outside the White House each year. Intelligence experts say intercepting communications as they move between cell towers and satellites is not rocket science.

Trump’s use of an ordinary phone is a defiance in the eyes of some officials given that Barack Obama fastidiously followed security protocol. The former president first had an impregnable Blackberry phone and later ditched that for an iPhone modified in a way that it barely functioned.

Photo: Darron Birgenheier/Flickr

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