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Trump deletes 'covfefe' post after baffling Twitter

The US President tweeted: ‘Despite the constant negative press covfefe.’

Updated 11.50am

US PRESIDENT DONALD Trump caused some confusion this morning by tweeting a nonsensical statement about ‘negative press’.

Overnight, Trump tweeted: ‘Despite the constant negative press covfefe.’

Trump is known for sharing his mind on Twitter, but his typos are usually corrected pretty quickly. However, the tweet wasn’t deleted or clarified for several hours.

DONALD TRUMP DRUNK

Trump eventually deleted the tweet. He then, tongue-in-cheek, challenged people to “figure out the true meaning of covfefe”.

trump 2 Source: Twitter

‘Covfefe’ is now trending on Twitter, with people guessing what Trump meant.

twitter Source: Twitter

Private mobile phone

Earlier, it emerged that Trump has been handing out his mobile phone number to world leaders and urging them to call him directly.

The move breaks diplomatic protocol and is raising concerns about the security and secrecy of the US commander in chief’s communications.

Trump has urged leaders of Canada and Mexico to reach him on his mobile phone, according to former and current US officials with direct knowledge of the practice. Of the two, only Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has taken advantage of the offer so far, the officials said.

Trump also exchanged numbers with French President Emmanuel Macron when the two spoke immediately following Macron’s victory earlier this month, according to a French official, who would not comment on whether Macron intended to use the line.

All the officials demanded anonymity because they were not authorised to reveal the conversations. Neither the White House nor Trudeau’s office responded to requests for comment.

The notion of world leaders calling each other up via mobile phone may seem unremarkable. However, in the diplomatic arena, where leader-to-leader calls are highly orchestrated affairs, it is another notable breach of protocol for a president who has expressed distrust of official channels.

The formalities and discipline of diplomacy have been a rough fit for Trump — who, before taking office, was long easily accessible by mobile phone.

Presidents generally place calls on one of several secure phone lines, including those in the White House Situation Room, the Oval Office or the presidential limousine. Even if Trump uses his government-issued mobile phone, his calls are vulnerable to eavesdropping, particularly from foreign governments, national security experts say.

“If you are speaking on an open line, then it’s an open line, meaning those who have the ability to monitor those conversations are doing so,” said Derek Chollet, a former Pentagon adviser and National Security Council official now at the German Marshall Fund of the United States.

A president “doesn’t carry with him a secure phone”, Chollet said.

If someone is trying to spy on you, then everything you’re saying, you have to presume that others are listening to it.

The caution is warranted even when dealing with allies. As German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s learned in 2013, when a dump of American secrets leaked by Edward Snowden revealed the US was monitoring her mobile phone, good relations don’t prevent some spycraft between friends.

“If you are Macron or the leader of any country and you get the cellphone number of the president of the United States, it’s reasonable to assume that they’d hand it right over to their intel service,” said Ashley Deeks, a law professor at the University of Virginia who formerly served as the assistant legal adviser for political-military affairs in the US State Department.

Hypocrisy

The practice opens Trump up to charges of hypocrisy. Throughout last year’s presidential campaign, he lambasted Democratic rival Hillary Clinton for using a private email server while she was Secretary of State, insisting she should not be given access to classified information because she would leave it vulnerable to foreign foes.

Presidents’ phone calls with world leaders often involve considerable advance planning. State Department and National Security Council officials typically prepare scripted talking points and background on the leader on the other end of the line.

Often an informal transcript of the call is made and circulated among a select group — sometimes a small clutch of aides, sometimes a broader group of foreign policy officials. Those records are preserved and archived. The White House did not respond to questions on whether the president is keeping records of any less-formal calls with world leaders.

Under Barack Obama, the first mobile phone-toting president, worries about cyber intrusions — particularly by foreign governments — pulled the president’s devices deep into the security bubble. Many of the functions on Obama’s BlackBerry were blocked, and a very small handful of people had his phone number or email address, according to former aides.

“Government sometimes looks like a big bureaucracy that has stupid rules, but a lot of these things are in place for very good reasons and they’ve been around for a while and determine the most effective way to do business in the foreign policy sphere,” Deeks said. “Sometimes it takes presidents longer to figure that out.”

Contains reporting from AP 

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Órla Ryan

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