On May 10, 2017, President Donald Trump met with two Russian officials – Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and ambassador Sergei Kislyak – in the Oval Office of the White House. The meeting was unexpected – and the subject of immediate controversy – for a plethora of different reasons.
For starters, Donald Trump has something of a Russia problem on his hands. For starters, the FBI has been investigating reports of possible collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians since at least July of 2016. Secondly, the meeting came exactly one day after the firing of former FBI director James Comey – the man who was personally leading said investigation.
But take politics out of the conversation for a moment. Try (if it’s possible) to set aside every opinion you have about Donald Trump and possible Russian influence into the 2016 presidential election. The Oval Office is undoubtedly filled with confidential information about the highest secrets in the United States. Literally opening the doors to two Russian officials should raise eyebrows from a confidentiality standpoint alone. So would these Russian officials have been able to sneak a recording device into the Oval Office? Experts agree – it’s definitely possible.
The Russian Meeting
It’s no secret that the Russians would absolutely love the opportunity to place a recording device into the Oval Office and it seems Donald Trump may have just given them one with open arms. The two Russian officials were accompanied by a photographer who brought camera equipment with him, all of which could have easily had recording equipment hidden inside.
Todd Morris, founder of Brickhouse Security, said that even going beyond that simple fact there were a huge number of ways that the Russians could have gotten a recording device into the room. Thankfully, though, he believes that device wouldn’t go unnoticed for very long.
“I would bring in a device roughly the size of a book of matches, very small,” said Morris, when asked how he would personally sneak a device into the room under only the circumstances of the meeting that we could confirm. “It would be set up to record on audio record, audio activated. It would store that data locally. And then, within a certain amount of time and in a burst of transmission, it would transmit that to a server.”
He said that a device that small could conceivably be hidden from the Secret Service during standard visitor screening, allowing it to be smuggled into the room in the first place. It’s sleek size could also allow it to be slipped out of sight “fairly easily” once the meeting itself was actually going on.
He emphasized, however, that any device placed would absolutely be found… eventually. The well-trained professionals in the Secret Service regularly sweep the entirety of the White House, including the Oval Office. They would do more than just use consumer-grade anti-spying technology – they would look in every nook and cranny, behind electrical outlets and inside cushions, to find anything and everything that they could. They basically take apart the entire room when conducting these sweeps.
Because of this, any device placed is one that would NOT have to be picked up later – meaning that quick, burst transmission is eventually required. In Morris’ opinion, he would configure a device to send out data after approximately 12 hours, allowing it to capture both the entire meeting and any important conversations that take place shortly thereafter. Any such device could use a normal cellular tower for transmission OR it could also use a low-frequency signal transmitting to a vehicle within about a mile range of the White House.
At this point, the question of whether or not Donald Trump colluded with the Russians to win the 2016 presidential election is totally irrelevant to the current discussion. To the question of “could the Russians have hidden a recording device inside the White House?”, the answer is an overwhelming “yes.”