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Donald Trump press secretary inadvertently reveals president's bank details

The Guardian logo The Guardian 2 days ago Melissa Davey

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Efforts to highlight Donald Trump’s largesse during his time in office have backfired after his press secretary appeared to display the US president’s personal bank details to the world.

At a press conference on Friday, Kayleigh McEnany announced that Trump would donate his quarterly pay cheque to the Department of Health and Human Services to “support the efforts being undertaken to confront, contain and combat the coronavirus”. So far, so laudable.

However, when she held up the $100,000 cheque for White House reporters to see, it came complete with all Trump’s banking details.

White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany holds up a check signed by U.S. President Donald Trump for $100,000 made out to the "Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health" as she states that the president is donating his presidential salary to the Department of Health and Human Services, in the Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House in Washington, U.S., May 22, 2020. © Reuters White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany holds up a check signed by U.S. President Donald Trump for $100,000 made out to the "Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health" as she states that the president is donating his presidential salary to the Department of Health and Human Services, in the Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House in Washington, U.S., May 22, 2020.

An administration official told the New York Times mock cheques were never used in the briefing, with a White House statement saying, “Today his salary went to help advance new therapies to treat this virus, but leave it to the media to find a shameful reason not to simply report the facts, focusing instead on whether the check is real or not.”

Having such details puts a bank account at risk of hacking or use by others. The relevant details in the cheque have been cropped out of the picture used in this story. 

Mike Chapple, a teaching professor of information technology at the University of Notre Dame, told the newspaper that this showed why large promotional cheques were used for TV. “They’re not only a nice prop onstage, but they also omit the sensitive account information that normally appears at the bottom,” he said. “The rest of us should play it safe and keep our account numbers to ourselves.”

Trump made a campaign pledge in 2016 that he would donate the $400,000 presidential salary.

Pictures: Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak around the world


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