Connect with us

Trump White House Staff Use of ‘Disappearing’ Messaging App Violates Presidential Records Act

Published

on

Staffers Fearful of Being Accused of Leaking in White House Flooded by Leaks

White House political appointees, staff, and other Trump administration officials have been using the messaging app Confide, which would be in violation of the Presidential Records Act, (44 U.S.C. Chapter 22). The use of the “disappearing” messaging app is an apparent effort to avoid being accused of leaks to the media and others, which have bedeviled and angered the President as well his senior advisers.

First reported by the web publication Axios February 8 and Monday by the Washington Post, staffers are using Confide, a three-year-old chat app that encrypts messages end-to-end, meaning only the sender and recipient can read them. In the interview with Axios, Confide’s co-founder and chief product officer Jeff Grossman told the news site that the app uses its own encryption protocol, which is similar to the PGP standard many people have used for their emails. Jon Brod, another co-founder and the company’s president, noted that by default the app deletes messages after they are read. “We immediately delete them from our servers and wipe them from the device,” he said. 

According to a source inside the administration who spoke with NCRM Tuesday, there is a perpetual state of chaos and infighting that, coupled with leaks to media outlets, has created a sense of fear of discovery and paranoia among the staff. Those leaks in turn have exasperated the president. Trump has ordered an investigation into the sources of those stories, including his phone calls with foreign heads of state, that have been widely reported. 

On Tuesday, in an apparent attempt to change the national conversation of the Michael Flynn scandal, President Trump posted this tweet:

The Post further reported, “The chaos and competing factions that were a Trump trademark in business and campaigning now are starting to define his presidency, according to interviews with a dozen White House officials as well as other Republicans.”

The use of any apps which offer message destruction such as Confide, Telegram, Signal, and Snapchat, (also offers ephemeral messages), appears to be a violation of the Presidential Records Act (PRA) of 1978, 44 U.S.C. ß2201-2209, which governs the official records of Presidents and Vice Presidents created or received after January 20, 1981. In particular § 2209, the disclosure requirements for official business conducted using non-official electronic messaging accounts:

(a) In General- The President, the Vice President, or a covered employee may not create or send a Presidential or Vice Presidential record using a non-official electronic message account unless the President, Vice President, or covered employee–

(1) copies an official electronic messaging account of the President, Vice President, or covered employee in the original creation or transmission of the Presidential record or Vice Presidential record; or

(2) forwards a complete copy of the Presidential or Vice Presidential record to an official electronic messaging account of the President, Vice President, or covered employee not later than 20 days after the original creation or transmission of the Presidential or Vice Presidential record

Axios spoke with “one influential GOP operative” who told them that he favored the fact that Confide makes it harder to take a screenshot—”you have to slide your fingers over text and it only captures a portion of the screen,” Axios reports. He also likes the integration with iMessage, allowing him to write self-destructing encrypted messages within the confines of the iPhone’s standard-issue messaging platform.

He added that Republicans like him are especially paranoid about their communications after Hillary Clinton’s email scandal. “For folks that are on the inside in this city, it provides some cover,” he said.

A White House spokesperson declined to comment Tuesday afternoon on the Axios and Post stories.  The administration official who spoke with NCRM Tuesday said he wasn’t shocked by the staff use of the apps, and wryly noted that with the level of ignorance that “runs rampant in the West Wing and Old EOB,” [Eisenhower Executive Office Building] regarding what is permissible and legal governing staff actions, coupled with the “chaotic paranoid atmosphere surrounding this president,” the use of apps that appear to violate the law is “almost to be expected.”

Brody Levesque is the Chief Political Correspondent for The New Civil Rights Movement.
You may contact Brody at Brody.Levesque@thenewcivilrightsmovement.com

To comment on this article and other NCRM content, visit our Facebook page.

 

Continue Reading
Click to comment
 
 

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. The New Civil Rights Movement depends on readers like you to meet our ongoing expenses and continue producing quality progressive journalism. Three Silicon Valley giants consume 70 percent of all online advertising dollars, so we need your help to continue doing what we do.

NCRM is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. From unflinching coverage of religious extremism, to spotlighting efforts to roll back our rights, NCRM continues to speak truth to power. America needs independent voices like NCRM to be sure no one is forgotten.

Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Help ensure NCRM remains independent long into the future. Support progressive journalism with a one-time contribution to NCRM, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click here to donate by check.

RIGHT WING EXTREMISM

DeSantis Courts Anti-Vaxx Voters by Changing Unemployment Rules to Give Them Benefits if They Get Fired: Report

Published

on

Florida’s DeSantis administration is expanding the Republican governor’s anti-vaxx policies by altering state unemployment insurance rules to allow those fired for refusing the coronavirus vaccine to be eligible for benefits.

“Extending unemployment benefits to the unvaccinated is just the latest in a series of proposals aligning the GOP with people who won’t get a COVID shot,” Axios reports, noting that Iowa, Kansas, and Tennessee have also changed their rules to favor anti-vaxxers.

“Republicans see a prime opportunity to rally their base ahead of the midterms. No matter how successful their individual efforts, the campaign is a powerful messaging weapon,” Axios adds.

Up until now being fired for cause – for refusing an employer’s requirements, including being vaccinated – has made terminated employees ineligible for unemployment benefits.

“The general proposition is that it is lawful for an employer to mandate the vaccine and so if an employee doesn’t get it, it’s a choice,” labor attorney Domenique Camacho Moran told CBS News in October.

“It’s like if your employer said, ‘Come in at 9 o’clock and you said, ‘Thanks for sharing, I’ll come in at 11.’ If you engage in deliberate misconduct like that, you won’t be entitled to unemployment benefits which are designed to be provided to those who are separated through no fault of their own,” he added.

But DeSantis and his administration have been downplaying COVID and the coronavirus vaccine, promoting expensive COVID treatments over vaccines – treatments that financially benefit one of his top political donors.

Related:

DeSantis Hires New Surgeon General: A Hydroxychloroquine-Pushing Physician Who Appeared in ‘Demon Sperm’ Doc’s Video

Revealed: Ron DeSantis Has Been Taking COVID Advice From a California Psychiatrist Pushing Ivermectin

DeSantis Says ‘Deal With’ It as Coronavirus ‘Waves’ Rage Through Florida

Continue Reading

THIS IS WHAT FASCISM LOOKS LIKE

Trump Supporters Have New ‘Ambitious Plan’ to Have Loyalists Oversee Elections Across America: Report

Published

on

Donald Trump and his supporters are enacting an “ambitious plan” to place loyalists in key positions overseeing elections after his unsuccessful efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election, which was won by Joe Biden.

“In Michigan, local GOP leaders have sought to reshape election canvassing boards by appointing members who expressed sympathy for former president Donald Trump’s false claims that the 2020 vote was rigged. In two Pennsylvania communities, candidates who embraced election fraud allegations won races this month to become local voting judges and inspectors,” The Washington Post reported Monday. “And in Colorado, 2020 doubters are urging their followers on conservative social media platforms to apply for jobs in election offices.”

The report comes as Trump continues to push his “Big Lie” of election fraud, releasing a Sunday statement falsely claiming the “2020 Election was rigged and stolen.”

“Citing the need to make elections more secure, Trump allies are also seeking to replace officials across the nation, including volunteer poll watchers, paid precinct judges, elected county clerks and state attorneys general, according to state and local officials, as well as rally speeches, social media posts and campaign appearances by those seeking the positions,” the newspaper reported. “If they succeed, Trump and his allies could pull down some of the guardrails that prevented him from overturning Biden’s win by creating openings to challenge the results next time, election officials and watchdog groups say.”

READ: Trump has a plan to make it easier to ‘subvert the will of the voters’ in 2024: CNN

There are QAnon-linked candidates running for secretary of state to oversee elections, including Rachel Hamm in California, Jim Marchant in Nevada, Kristina Karamo in Michigan, Mark Finchem in Arizona, and Rep. Jody Hice (R-GA) in Georgia.

Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold (D) warned how the focus has shifted from overturning the last election to overturning future elections.

“The attacks right now are no longer about 2020,” Griswold explained. “They’re about 2022 and 2024. It’s about chipping away at confidence and chipping away at the reality of safe and secure elections. And the next time there’s a close election, it will be easier to achieve their goals. That’s what this is all about.”

Read the full report.

Continue Reading

News

‘Jan. 6 Wasn’t a Fantasy’: Top Missouri Paper Says It’s ‘Long Past Time’ for Senate to Investigate Josh Hawley

Published

on

On Sunday, the editorial board of the St Louis Post-Dispatch called on the U.S. Senate Ethics Panel to investigate Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) over any possible involvement he may have had in the Jan 6th insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.

Hawley, whose political future will be haunted by a photo of him giving a raised fist to insurrectionists as they stormed the halls of Congress has been excoriated by the paper’s editors multiple times, but Sunday’s call for an investigation ramps up their attacks on the home state senator.

According to the board, “Ten months after a group of Senate Democrats lodged ethics complaints into the conduct of Republican Sens. Josh Hawley of Missouri and Ted Cruz of Texas regarding their roles in sparking the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, the Senate Ethics Committee has shown no sign of movement.,” with the editors saying it is “long past time” to take a hard look at both Republican senators.

“Jan. 6 wasn’t a fantasy; it was real, and the culpability of these two senators must be determined,” they wrote. “Hawley and Cruz were the only two senators to object to certification of Joe Biden’s clear victory in the 2020 election results, citing (with zero evidence) supposed concerns about the election’s integrity. That was the same baseless, toxic nonsense then-President Donald Trump had been spewing since before the election. Such talk whipped up the mob of Trump loyalists to attack the Capitol on Jan. 6.”

Related: Lauren Boebert needs to be subpoenaed to explain her ‘violent revolution’ Jan 6th tweets: MSNBC contributor

Adding, “Even after the violence, he persisted in voting with just five other senators to continue promoting Trump’s big lie that Biden’s win was illegitimate,” the editors wrote, “If he had an ounce of honor, he’d have heeded our Jan. 7 call for his resignation (we certainly weren’t alone on that). But at this point, why even talk about honor?”

Writing that, “Just because there’s a mechanism in place allowing senators to object to election results doesn’t mean it’s OK for Hawley to abuse that process for crass political gain,” the editorial concluded, “Hawley and Cruz have the right to defend themselves from the allegations — but so far, they haven’t even had to. The Ethics Committee should stop sitting on this.”

You can read the whole piece here.

Continue Reading

Trending

Copyright © 2020 AlterNet Media.