- President Donald Trump has been communicating with his personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, on unsecured cellphone lines exposed to surveillance by Russian intelligence, The Washington Post reported.
- John Sipher, former deputy chief of Russia operations at the CIA, told the Post that in failing to secure their communications Trump and Giuliani have effectively “given the Russians ammunition they can use in an overt fashion, a covert fashion, or in the twisting of information.”
- Giuliani has played a leading role in seeking damaging information on Trump’s behalf about Democratic presidential contender Joe Biden from former Ukrainian officials, a search that is now subject to an impeachment probe.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
President Donald Trump communicated with Rudy Giuliani on unsecured personal cellphone lines that were almost certainly being monitored by Russian intelligence, current and former US officials told The Washington Post.
According to phone records released by the House Intelligence Committee this week, Giuliani regularly communicated with several key Trump administration officials and likely the president himself using his cellphone while he sought damaging information from ex-Ukrainian officials on Democratic presidential contender Joe Biden.
But according to intelligence officials who spoke to the Post, there is no indication that Giuliani’s phone was encrypted or otherwise protected from surveillance by foreign powers.
An administration official, who was not named in the report, confirmed that Trump regularly talks to Giuliani and others on unsecured lines.
“It happened all the time,” the official told the Post. Another aide described Trump’s habit of using unsecured cellphone lines as a “bonanza” for foreign intelligence.
Officials told the Post that intelligence agents could have used information gleaned from surveilling the calls to feed selected disinformation to Giuliani via Ukrainian assets.
In recent weeks Republican lawmakers and the president have defended a groundless theory reportedly seeded by Russian intelligence that Ukraine, not Russia, interfered in the 2016 presidential election.
Giuliani again travelled to Ukraine this week where he met an MP from the pro-Russia Party of Regions.
John Sipher, former deputy chief of Russia operations at the CIA, told the Post that in failing to secure their communications Trump and Giuliani have effectively “given the Russians ammunition they can use in an overt fashion, a covert fashion, or in the twisting of information.”
He said that Russian intelligence agencies likely have more information on what Trump and Giuliani discussed in the calls than House impeachment investigators.
“Congress and investigators have call records that suggest certain things but have no means whatsoever of getting the actual text” of what was said, Sipher said. “I guarantee the Russians have the actual information.”
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.