Trump Denies NYT Report About His Cellphone Use - NBC Southern California
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Trump Denies NYT Report About His Cellphone Use

U.S. officials tell NBC News that they have been concerned for months that Trump has been discussing sensitive information on an unsecured cell phone with informal advisers

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    Trump Denies NYT Report About His Cellphone Use
    Shealah Craighead/White House
    This Jan. 26, 2017, file photo from the White House shows President Donald Trump talk on the phone aboard Air Force One during a flight to Philadelphia to address a joint gathering of House and Senate Republicans. U.S. officials tell NBC News that they have been concerned for months that Trump has been discussing sensitive information on an unsecured cell phone with informal advisers, including Sean Hannity of Fox News. Trump denied using unsecure phones in Twitter messages sent Thursday, Oct. 25, 2018.

    What to Know

    • The New York Times reported that President Trump uses unsecured iPhones to call confidants

    • According to the report, Chinese and Russian spies listen in on the calls

    • Trump denied the report and said, "I rarely use a cellphone, & when I do it’s government authorized"

    President Donald Trump on Thursday denied a New York Times report that claimed Chinese and Russians are spying on him when he uses an unsecured cellphone, saying the story is "soooo wrong!"

    Citing current and former American officials, the Times reported that Trump's aides have warned him that the calls to friends aren't secure and that the information the spies are allegedly picking up is being used to influence him and impact administration policy.

    While NBC News has not verified the Times' reporting, U.S. officials tell NBC News that they have been concerned for months that Trump has been discussing sensitive information on an unsecured cell phone with informal advisers, including Sean Hannity of Fox News.

    Trump said on Twitter that he only uses government-authorized cellphones or land lines and called the article incorrect.

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    "The New York Times has a new Fake Story that now the Russians and Chinese (glad they finally added China) are listening to all of my calls on cellphones. Except that I rarely use a cellphone, & when I do it’s government authorized. I like Hard Lines. Just more made up Fake News!" the president tweeted.

    Earlier, he tweeted that the Times article is "long and boring" and "so incorrect I do not have time here to correct it. I only use Government Phones, and have only one seldom used government cell phone. Story is soooo wrong!"

    Officials told the newspaper that Trump "has two official iPhones that have been altered by the National Security Agency to limit their abilities — and vulnerabilities — and a third personal phone that is no different from hundreds of millions of iPhones in use around the world."

    While the devices are not completely secure, the Times reported, the calls are intercepted while traveling through international cellphone networks.

    While Trump tweeted that "I rarely use a cellphone," the message was sent from an iPhone, according to social media manager Tweetdeck. One of his phones is optimized for Twitter and other apps, according to the Times report. He also dictates tweets to aides.

    In a tweet, the newspaper said "The New York Times is confident in the accuracy of our reporting."

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    Later Thursday, White House Deputy Press Secretary Hogan Gidley said Trump "does not have three cellular phones. He has one official government iPhone. This phone security follows industry best practices and is closely managed under government supervision in conjunction with recommendations from industry partners."

    "The phone is rotated on a regular basis and is constantly monitored for any security vulnerabilities and attacks, in accordance with recommendations from the intelligence community,” Gidley said in a statement.

    Apple said it is not commenting on the report, and NBC has also reached out to the Federal Communications Commission for comment.

    China on Thursday denounced the report as "fake news" and suggested Trump exchange his iPhone for a cellphone made by Chinese manufacturer Huawei. 

    Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told reporters that the journalists behind the report in the Times "are sparing no efforts to win the Academy Award for best screenplay." 

    A 2012 congressional report said Huawei's equipment was a security risk.

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    If the U.S. is still concerned about security, Trump could "abandon all modern communication devices and cut off contact with the outside completely," Hua said.

    The Associated Press contributed to this report.