Pompeo dodges questions on Trump's cell phone security
Posted May 23, 2018 10:54 a.m. EDT
WASHINGTON (CNN) — Secretary of State Mike Pompeo declined to say whether he has advised President Donald Trump to be mindful of using an unsecured cell phone in his conversations with friends and for sending tweets.
"I am the Secretary of State. I will leave to others the President's phone. I won't walk away a single bit from what I said previously. Every elected government official has responsibility to comply" with security protocols, Pompeo said in testimony before the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
In a spirited exchange, Democratic Rep. William Keating of Massachusetts repeatedly try to elicit an answer from Pompeo on whether the nation's chief diplomat and former CIA director had warned the President in private about the use of his personal cell phones.
"You wouldn't tell the President if he had an unsecure phone, 'Hey Mr. President you gotta get a new phone.' You wouldn't tell him that? Why wouldn't you tell him?" Keating asked.
Pompeo side-stepped the question, telling lawmakers that he has "managed for 16 months not to talk about conversations I have had with the President."
"I do not intend to violate that principle today with respect to conversations between myself and the President," he said.
Repeated attempts by Keating to get Pompeo to elaborate on his conversations with Trump were unsuccessful.
"You shouldn't construe the absence of a comment from me one way or the other," Pompeo said.
"Know this, every time I see a security issue I try to do my best to fix it whether it's something I got wrong or it's something that someone else who made an error as well," he added at the end of the exchange.
Earlier this week, there were reports that Trump has rejected attempts by his staff to enhance the security features of his personal cell phone in an effort to prevent those devices from being hacked.
A senior White House official pushed back on those reports Tuesday, claiming Trump's device is indeed secure.
"The White House is confident in the security protocols in place for the President's use of communications devices," the official said. "The President has accepted every device and process related to mobile phones recommended by White House Information Technology."
"Due to inherent capabilities and advancement in technologies, these devices are more secure than any Obama era devices," the official added.