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.
“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.
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.
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.
Photo Credit: Shealah Craighead/White House
Source: NBC San Diego