On June 30, 2016, BuzzFeed.com reported that several former employees at the 126-room Mar-a-Lago Golf Club and Resort in Palm Beach, Florida, owned by Donald Trump, have alleged that Trump himself had a special telephone console in his bedroom at the resort that connected to every telephone landline on the estate. According to four of these witnesses, who opted for anonymity, during the mid-2000s Trump would regularly eavesdrop on telephone conversations involving staff.
One of the former employees cited an incident in which a staff member was on the phone with a club member, and Donald Trump rang on another line to throw in his two cents on the same issue being discussed, adding the observation:
“There is no other way you could know what that conversation was about unless you were eavesdropping.”
Two other sources noted another switchboard and certain telephones in the resort had lights that would indicate that Donald Trump’s extension was active and tapped into a call. A fourth noted that Mar-a-Lago used a phone network equipped with the capability to discreetly monitor calls made using any of the network’s phone lines.
These revelations come at a time when the public has been understandably concerned about government surveillance ever since former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden leaked reams of classified documents detailing global surveillance programs being run by the NSA with the cooperation of numerous telecommunications firms.
Considering that alongside Donald Trump being intolerant of dissent to the extent that he would loosen libel laws in the interest of suing his detractors in the press, showing a blatant disregard for the freedom of the press clause in the First Amendment, the accounts of Donald Trump spying on his employees’ telephone communications are nothing short of unsettling.
It certainly gives the awful impression that should Donald Trump be inaugurated President, the only people who will enjoy the full benefit of the Bill of Rights will be Donald Trump, his Cabinet and his supporters in the House and the Senate and on the U.S. Supreme Court bench, particularly the ones he appoints.
Featured image: Donald Trump (Gage Skidmore via Wikipedia).