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President Donald Trump walks on the South Lawn upon arrival at the White House in Washington, Sunday, Feb. 12, 2017, from a trip to Florida. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

Trump read a North Korea briefing by phone flashlight in public. That may be dangerous.


President Trump read his briefing on the North Korea missile launch by the light of his phone's flashlight during a dinner party at his South Florida residence, Mar-a-Lago.

Then he discussed strategy during the dinner party without retreating to a private room.

That means he may have exposed classified information to the public in at least two ways, according to CNN and The Verge.

The problem with the phone

There are numerous security problems inherent in Trump continuing to use his trusty Android phone. Former President Obama's presidential phone was a heavily modified BlackBerry, and Trump has a more secure device for presidential affairs as well.

But the flashlight is particularly dangerous. It's not hard to hack a phone's camera and see whatever it's pointing at. If someone is reading classified documents by the light of a flashlight, that can be dangerous.

The problem with reading it in public

Mar-a-Lago isn't just Trump's home. It's home to lavish parties that are open to paying members. Trump reportedly started discussing strategy with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in public, potentially revealing classified information to dozens of diners. 

Waiters didn't even stop bringing courses to the table as the discussion went on, CNN reports. Photos posted to Facebook (since made private) captured guests gathered around Trump as he read. 

One guest snagged a photo with the man who carries the "nuclear football."

This Friday, March 11, 2016, photo, shows the Mar-A-Lago Club, owned by Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, in Palm Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)
This Friday, March 11, 2016, photo, shows the Mar-A-Lago Club, owned by Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, in Palm Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

Additionally, the fact that Trump still makes money on the resort raises questions of conflict of interest. Trump reportedly crashed a wedding reception held at the club, telling Abe, "They've paid me a fortune."

Clinton in purple.jpg
FILE - In this Dec. 8, 2016 file photo, Hillary Clinton attends a ceremony to unveil a portrait of Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., on Capitol Hill in Washington. Clinton received nearly 2.9 million more votes than President-elect Donald Trump, giving her the largest popular vote margin of any losing presidential candidate, according to an analysis by The Associated Press. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

One of Trump's key talking points on the campaign trail was that Hillary Clinton endangered national security by using a private server for government emails. The Washington Post pointed out this irony.

We must assume that his phone has actively been compromised for a while, and an actively compromised phone is literally a listening device.
Nicholas Weaver

Berkeley computer scientist Nicholas Weaver described a bleak situation to NPR when talking about the security of Trump's phone.

"It would not meet the security requirements of a teenager," Weaver said.


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