Image: AP

At least twice, Donald Trump has publicly insisted that he assumes a third party is listening in each and every time he picks up the phone. Also, multiple employees claim that Trump used to listen in on the calls of his staff and guests at his Mar-A-Lago resort. Might the steak man’s paranoia and his alleged eavesdropping somehow, perhaps, be related?

Six workers at Trump’s pricey Palm Beach compound recently told BuzzFeed that their boss maintained a virtual switchboard in his bedroom that allowed him to tap into phone calls between employees, and sometimes between employees and guests. The Trump camp, predictably, has flatly denied these claims.

One of these two sides is lying. We may never know which. What we do know is that Trump, for whatever reason, is pretty paranoid about his own calls being monitored.

Here is speaking about his fear at an event in California earlier this month.

Assume everybody’s listening to you. I always do. Every time I pick up a phone, I assume people are listening, you know. You sue their ass off if they are. If you can find them, you drop a little lawsuit on them, and you make them pay, big league.

And here is talking about it on the Hugh Hewitt show in December of last year.

I tend to err on the side of security, I must tell you. And I’ve been there for longer than you would think. You know, when you have people that are beheading our—if you’re a Christian, and frankly for lots of other reasons—when you have the world looking at us, and would like to destroy us as quickly as possible—I err on the side of security. And so that’s the way it is. That’s the way I’ve been, and some people like that, frankly, and some people don’t like that...

...and I’m not just saying that since Paris. I’m saying for quite some time. I assume, when I pick up my telephone, people are listening to my conversations anyway, if you want to know the truth. It’s a pretty sad commentary.

Maybe Trump is afraid of the NSA, or maybe he is justifiably spooked about his phone being hacked. But maybe, just maybe, the fear reveals something deeper than that. I’ll leave you with a quote from Hermann Hesse, or else something some other armchair philosopher made up and attributed to him on Goodreads: “If you hate a person, you hate something in him that is part of yourself. What isn’t part of ourselves doesn’t disturb us.