A mobile call between President Trump and U.S. EU ambassador, Gordon Sondland, as he sat in a restaurant in Kyiv, Ukraine, over the summer and heard by a member of the State Department’s diplomatic corps, opened the conversation up to the prying eyes and ears of foreign intelligence organizations.
The breach of security protocol, referred to by Ambassador Bill Taylor during impeachment hearings being held by the House Intelligence Committee, raises the same concerns posed by Trump’s February 2017 meeting with Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who were seen huddling around the dinner table in the middle of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago restaurant discussing North Korea’s missile test in full view of other patrons – and using cell phone flashlights to illuminate documents in the dimly lit room.
Taylor revealed that his aide, David Holmes, recounted the call in which the said the two men discussed Ukraine’s potential investigation of former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter. Holmes reportedly could overhear the president speaking during the conversation, which took place the day after Trump pressed Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to probe the Bidens, allegedly dangling U.S. aid in exchange and prompting House impeachment inquiry.
Security experts were quick to point out that intelligence operatives from Russia, which is locked in conflict with Ukraine, likely monitored the call, which was made over an unsecured line.
“The security ramifications are insane — using an open cellphone to communicate with the president of the United States,” the Washington Post cited Hayden Center Director Larry Pfeiffer, former senior director of the White House Situation Room and former chief of staff at the CIA director, as saying. “In a country that is so wired with Russian intelligence, you can almost take it to the bank that the Russians were listening in on the call.”