The Washington Post has quoted unnamed US officials as saying that during President Donald Trump’s routine communication with his personal lawyer Rudolph Giuliani and other individuals involved in the campaign to “pressure” Ukraine, their mobile phone might have not been encrypted and protected from foreign surveillance, including that of Russia.
The officials claimed that all this raises “the possibility that Moscow was able to learn about aspects of Trump’s attempt to get Ukraine to investigate a political rival months before that effort was exposed by a whistleblower report and the impeachment inquiry”.
In phone logs released by the House Intelligence Committee earlier in the week, Trump is not identified by name but investigators suspect that he may be a person with a blocked number listed as “-1” in these records.
In this regard, one of the officials asserted that Trump regularly communicated with Giuliani on unsecured lines, saying that “it happened all the time”.
The officials also argued that “insight into Giuliani’s discussions with Trump could enable Moscow to adapt or amplify its propaganda promoting the baseless claim that Ukraine, rather than Russia, hacked the Democratic National Committee in the 2016 US election”.
The issue was a subject of a previous protracted investigation led by former US Special Counsel Robert Mueller, which finally shattered allegations that Trump and his election team had conspired with Russia in order to win the presidential election in 2016.
House Intel Report Claims Trump Obstructed Impeachment Inquiry
The officials’ remarks come after the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence released a report on Tuesday to claim that Trump and his administration obstructed justice via witness intimidation, withholding evidentiary documents and other means in order to cover up his attempt “to solicit foreign interference on his behalf in the 2020 [presidential] election”.
The White House responded by calling the report a “one-sided sham process” that reflects nothing more than their frustrations”.
“Chairman [Adam] Schiff’s report reads like the ramblings of a basement blogger straining to prove something when there is evidence of nothing,” White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham said in a statement.
Trump Urges Democrats to Impeach Him ‘Now’
In a separate development, Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced on Thursday that she has instructed the House Judiciary panel to draw up articles of impeachment on Trump, claiming that he “has engaged in abuse of power, undermining our national security and jeopardising the integrity of our country”.
She also pointed to an alleged Russia angle in the matter, claiming, “all roads lead to[Russian President Vladimir]Putin […] that was the a-ha moment”.
Her remarks were preceded by Trump going on Twitter to urge “the Do Nothing Democrats to impeach him now” after they had a “historically bad day yesterday in the House”.
On 24 September, US House Democrats launched an impeachment inquiry following allegations by a government whistleblower that Trump asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter during a phone conversation that took place on 25 July.
POTUS rejected the impeachment probe as a “hoax” and another political “witch hunt” by Democrats aimed at reversing the outcome of the 2016 US presidential election.