Friday, September 21, 2018
Politics

Donald Trump made it to the White House, but his treasured phone reportedly did not

Just shy of becoming the most powerful Android in the free world, President Donald Trump's personal cellphone has reportedly sent its last tweet.

The incoming president of the United States gave up the device in the interest of national security, swapping it for a Secret Service-approved clunker, according to the New York Times.

Believed to be a Samsung Galaxy, the phone was one of Trump's closest companions on his journey from write-off to the White House, and the pair often made trouble on the way. The Android is survived by at least 900 tweets, from Trump's earliest presidential musings to early-morning rants and ultra-brief victory speeches.

Its phone number is still known by countless journalists, politicians and world leaders - regardless of whether anyone ever answers again.

"Someone said I'm the Ernest Hemingway of 140 characters," Trump once told a crowd in South Carolina, back when he was still a long shot for the Republican nomination, let alone president. "It gives you a lot of power ... if someone says something badly about you."

Then he air-typed: "Bing, bing, bing! I say something really bad."

When the New York Times interviewed the mogul-turned-politician in 2015, Trump kept interrupting the reporter to pick up his Galaxy.

And to good effect, the paper noted: Trump's tweets could be crude - like when he told an 81-year-old actress to "sue her plastic surgeon."

But they worked. The Times compared two bombastic tweets by Trump and his then likely rival Jeb Bush. Bush's message got 600 retweets. Trump's got 7,000.

His phone's number, meanwhile, was just as famous.

Even after beating Bush and every other Republican rival for the party's nomination, Trump would answer himself when a reporter or senator rang. He would even return calls from unknown numbers.

Trump's human companions were not always thrilled with his love for the machine. Melania Trump "has repeatedly told her husband to get off Twitter, especially after midnight," The Washington Post's Jenna Johnson wrote in May.

A few months later, Trump confirmed his wife's fears. After stumbling through a presidential debate with Democrat Hillary Clinton, he went on a Twitter rant against a former beauty queen at 5:30 a.m., a tweet storm that threatened to doom his campaign for days afterward.

Even a scientist took an interest in the bond between man and phone. David Robinson analyzed hundreds of @realDonaldTrump missives - when they were posted, how and what sort of language they contained.

"The data clearly shows that the Android and iPhone tweets are from different people," Robinson wrote. "What's more, the Android tweets are angrier and more negative." The iPhone tweets were probably impostors, he concluded - banal campaign messages crafted by staffers. The Android tweets, Robinson said, "sound like the Trump we all know."

As Election Day grew nigh, the Android suddenly went dark, causing some to wonder whether Trump's campaign staff had seized it for his own good.

"On Saturday morning, Trump tweeted, 'MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!'" The Post's Ben Guarino wrote. "As of publication, this was the last tweet sent from an Android phone."

But the phone returned in victory - alternately magnanimous, gloating or distracted as the Trump administration took shape.

Trump's last known message from an Android came at exactly 8 a.m. Thursday. "Getting ready to leave for Washington, D.C.," he wrote. "The journey begins."

More tweets followed, but not from an Android, according to a Twitter search. Bowing to security experts who did not like the prospect of a president on the phone with the world, Trump traded the Android for "a secure, encrypted device approved by the Secret Service with a new number that few people possess," according to the Times.

Museum curators are now trying to get their hands on the Android, the Associated Press reported.

Some Trump aides were privately relieved, according to the Times. Others immediately noted its absence.

"We have not seen any tweets from Donald Trump," a CNN reporter said as Trump walked toward the inaugural lectern Friday - with a new @POTUS handle no one knew if he'd use.

Who knows how Trump feels. His administration - minutes old - did not immediately respond to questions about the phone.

He isn't the first president to face cellphone separation. Barack Obama surrendered his for a heavily restricted, Secret Service-approved Blackberry before he took the oath.

But Trump is no technophile. He has never cared for email or computers. He liked his phone. Months ago, when his victory was far from certain, he mused about muting the device in the White House.

"We won't tweet anymore," Trump told a crowd. "I don't know. Not presidential." The crowd booed.

As another crowd streamed out of the White House after Trump's inaugural speech Friday, @realDonaldTrump roared back to life:

"January 20th 2017, will be remembered as the day the people became the rulers of this nation again."

It sounded like him. But it wasn't his Android.

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