The New York Times' revelations about Donald Trump's use of unsecured phones are quite brutal. As we discussed earlier, the president has ignored repeated security warnings and insisted on using devices that are vulnerable to Chinese spies. White House officials have been reduced to simply hoping that Trump isn't revealing classified information, and leaking their concerns in the hopes that the president might be embarrassed into acting responsibly.
Former White House chief information officer Theresa Payton, a veteran of the George W. Bush administration and the current CEO of a security firm, told Fast Company, "If true, this may be the largest, most significant breach of White House communications in history."
The story has not gone unnoticed by congressional Democrats. The Washington Post noted this morning:
"We need an investigation to definitively determine whether Trump has compromised classified information," said Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), who accused the president of "putting personal convenience ahead of America's national security."Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.), who represents D.C. suburbs like Alexandria, reiterated his previous calls for an inquiry into Trump's cellphone use. "When Trump took office, I warned Republicans about the dangers of his cell phone usage," he tweeted. "No oversight was conducted under their watch.... His selfishness is jeopardizing our national security.""This is a big problem, if true," added Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.), the vice chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee who made his fortune in cellphones. "The intelligence community works hard to defend us against foreign espionage. The last thing we need is for the president to be jeopardizing national security through sheer carelessness."
I've looked around a bit this morning, trying to find statements of concern from congressional Republicans -- or even just one congressional Republican -- but nothing has turned up.
As things stand, Democrats have effectively no power on Capitol Hill, so they couldn't schedule a hearing or send a subpoena on this or any other White House controversy. That responsibility rests in Republicans' hands, and one thing has become painfully obvious over the last two years, it's the fact that GOP lawmakers aren't interested in serious oversight of a Republican administration.
But the congressional midterm elections are 12 days away, and if Democrats are able to get any power at all from voters, this is exactly the sort of controversy that will draw meaningful scrutiny.
And if so, I'm hard pressed to imagine what Republicans will complain about. They've invested a ridiculous amount of time exploring questions about Hillary Clinton's email server protocols, arguing that putting sensitive information at risk is an unforgivable transgression.
What's the GOP defense for Trump being guilty of the offense they accused Clinton of committing?