The people and things you might have seen on the Mar-a-Lago open-air terrace one winter evening in 2017 include water flutes filled with diet colas; bamboo-and-rattan outdoor dining chairs; Jay Weitzman, the CEO of a parking company; and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Also: Donald Trump and his entourage examining important documents detailing North Korean ballistic-missile capabilities.
That night, White House aides used smartphone flashlights to illuminate these highly sensitive papers in an unsecure area right there on the patio. If compromised, such phones would allow hackers to view whatever their camera and microphone see and hear. This carelessness from the same man who built his campaign against Hillary Clinton on her use of a private email server as secretary of state. (“Lock her up,” his supporters still chant, at Trump’s rallies.)
Trump has repeatedly proved himself a hypocrite when it comes to information security. Trump uses a smartphone without appropriate security features, potentially exposing his communications to surveillance or hacking. Another phone, which Trump uses to post to Twitter, should be swapped out regularly, according to White House information-technology practices, an arrangement Trump considers “too inconvenient.” Ivanka Trump also used a private email account to conduct official White House business—and Donald Trump defended her actions.