Carper Renews Request for Information Regarding President Trump’s Use of an Unsecured Smartphone
Absent answers from Secretary Mattis and in light of troubling reports, Senator Carper sends follow-up letter seeking answers on serious security concerns
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Tom Carper (D-Del.), a senior member of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, sent a follow-up letter to Department of Defense Secretary James Mattis regarding serious security concerns related to President Trump’s reported use of an unsecured smartphone.
In February 2017, Senator Carper wrote to Secretary Mattis to gain a better understanding of the efforts by the Department of Defense and the White House to oversee, develop, and implement protective measures for President Trump’s use of a smartphone. The Department of Defense, through the Defense Information Systems Agency and the White House Communications Agency, provides direct services and communications support to the president and his staff. More than fifteen months later, the Department has yet to respond to this important matter.
Additionally, the issue remains a serious security risk as recent reports indicate the President continues to deviate from long-established diplomatic protocols and security measures concerning his external smartphone communications. Today, Senator Carper sent a follow-up letter to Secretary Mattis renewing his requests in the February 2017 letter and seeking additional clarity.
Senator Carper wrote, “Just this week, a new report indicates that ‘President Donald Trump uses a White House cellphone that isn’t equipped with sophisticated security features designed to shield his communications…a departure from the practice of his predecessors that potentially exposes him to hacking or surveillance.’ This is all the more concerning in light of reports indicating that President Trump has urged world leaders to contact him directly through his smartphone and that White House Chief of Staff John Kelly’s personal smartphone was compromised for months.”
Senator Carper requested that Secretary Mattis respond to his latest request no later than June 8, 2017.
The full letter can be found here and below.
Senator Carper’s original request for information can be found here.
May 24, 2018
The Honorable James N. Mattis
U.S. Department of Defense
1000 Defense Pentagon
Washington, DC 20301
Dear Secretary Mattis:
I write today regarding the continued security implications of President Donald Trump’s smartphone use. As you know, Senator McCaskill and I wrote to you more than fifteen months ago, on February 9, 2017, to gain a better understanding of the efforts by the Department of Defense and the White House to oversee, develop, and implement protective measures for President Trump’s use of a smartphone. As of the date of this letter, the Department has yet to respond.
The security measures surrounding President Trump’s smartphone use remain unclear. Despite prior reports suggesting that President Trump was using a “secure encrypted device approved by the U.S. Secret Service,” subsequent reports indicated that the President was still using an “old, unsecured Android phone.” Later reports then suggested that although President Trump “has been using his new iPhone for the past couple of weeks …” he continued to send tweets from his reportedly unsecured Android phone until at least March 25, 2017. Just this week, a new report has indicated that “President Donald Trump uses a White House cellphone that isn’t equipped with sophisticated security features designed to shield his communications … a departure from the practice of his predecessors that potentially exposes him to hacking or surveillance.” This security lapse is all the more concerning in light of reports that President Trump has urged world leaders to contact him directly through his smartphone and that White House Chief of Staff John Kelly’s personal smartphone was compromised for months.
Given the need for clarity on this matter, I respectfully renew the requests made in the enclosed February 9, 2017 letter, and request a response no later than June 7, 2018.
If you or members of your staff have any questions about this request, please do not hesitate to ask your staff to contact Roberto Berrios at 202-224-2441.
With best personal regards, I am
United States Senator
 Maggie Haberman and Glenn Thrush, A Trump Administration, with Obama Staff Members Filling in the Gaps, N.Y. Times (Jan. 19, 2017).
 Maggie Haberman, A Homebody Finds the Ultimate Home Office, N.Y. Times (Jan. 25, 2017).
 Arjun Kharpal, Trump is Finally Using an iPhone but Some of his Tweets are Still Coming from an Android Device, CNBC (Mar. 29, 2017).
 Eliana Johnson et al., ‘Too Inconvenient’: Trump goes Rogue on Phone Security, Politico (May 21, 2018).
 Vivian Salama, Trump’s Use of Private Cellphone Raises Security Concerns, The Associated Press (May 31, 2017).
 Josh Dawsey et al., John Kelly’s Personal Cellphone was Compromised, White House Believes, Politico (Oct. 5, 2017).