In the wake of several leaks of statements made in the White House, the Trump administration has forbidden the use of personal cell phones in the West Wing. Staffers will only be allowed to use their government-issued phones, and guests won’t be allowed to bring their phones in.
“The security and integrity of the technology systems at the White House is a top priority for the Trump administration,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement to NBC. Therefore, starting next week the use of all personal devices for both guests and staff will no longer be allowed in the West Wing. Staff will be able to conduct business on their government-issued devices and continue working hard on behalf of the American people.”
A day before the announcement, excerpts from Michael Wolff’s Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House were published online. The book shares what Wolff witnessed as a reporter in the White House. He recalls, for example, Steve Bannon saying that a meeting with a Russian lawyer at Trump Tower was “treasonous,” “unpatriotic,” and “bad shit,” leading Trump to declare that Bannon had “lost his mind” and send cease-and-desist letters to Bannon and Wolff.
But the Trump administration had considered restricting cell phone use as early as November, and National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster wrote a memo calling for more drastic measures to prevent leaks in September (which, of course, leaked). Chief of staff John Kelly first brought up a potential cell phone ban in July, according to CNN.
The rule will apply to Trump’s top officials, an insider told CNN, but not the President himself. Other sources told CNN that the new rule would make it hard to keep in touch with their families and that they don’t believe it’s really for cyber-security. “It’s not about being secure,” one said. “It’s about being suspicious.”