The Slatest

Israel Was Reportedly Known to Be Spying on White House Cellphones, and Trump Didn’t Do Anything About It

The White House
A view of the White House on July 19.
Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images

President Donald Trump is notoriously lax in his adherence to security protocols, particularly when it comes to his personal cellphone use, so it makes sense that foreign governments are trying to exploit his presidential sloppiness and listen in. Russia and China are reported to have active Trump surveillance operations, but they’re not the only ones. Israel is also engaged in presidential snooping, Politico reported Thursday, and went so far as to place cellphone surveillance devices known as “StingRays” near the White House to intercept unsecured mobile phone usage. It’s a brazen surveillance attempt by a staunch ally—though not *cough* unheard of—particularly one with a leader that shares Trump’s id.

U.S. security agencies discovered the StingRay surveillance devices that are able to mimic regular cell towers, attracting cellphone signals that allow for the interception of calls, the phone’s geolocation, and identity information, and were able to trace the devices back to the Israeli government with a reasonable degree of certainty. “It was pretty clear that the Israelis were responsible,” former senior intelligence official told Politico. The target of the surveillance effort, former officials said, was Trump, his inner circle, and the network of friends and confidants he’s reported to ring up at any given moment for advice.

Perhaps the most galling part of Politico’s reporting is that the Trump administration didn’t do anything about it! “One former senior intelligence official noted that after the FBI and other agencies concluded that the Israelis were most likely responsible for the devices, the Trump administration took no action to punish or even privately scold the Israeli government,” Politico noted. “The former senior intelligence official criticized how the administration handled the matter, remarking on the striking difference from past administrations, which likely would have at a very minimum issued a démarche, or formal diplomatic reprimand, to the foreign government condemning its actions.”