An email obtained under the Freedom of Information Act confirmed that hackers breached an account belonging to White House Chief of Staff John Kelly when he was secretary at the Department of Homeland Security.
The Buzzfeed website published the email last week in a report on how Kelly had apparently tried to circumvent the FOIA when he told the recipient of the communication to stop messaging his staff as the contents of messages could become public.
In the email, Kelly notes the “toxic atmosphere here in the DC cesspool” and that his “folks are nervous about emails you send and ask that you no longer include them on any postings.”
“FOIA is real and everyday here in the cesspool, and even federal court action on personal accounts are real. Then there is hacking which one of my own personal accounts has suffered recently,” he wrote.
The email is dated June 8, 2017 when Kelly was Secretary of Homeland Security, however the hacking may have been carried out much earlier.
It is not clear who Kelly sent the message to as the recipient’s details were redacted due to privacy concerns. Sources at Department of Homeland Security told Buzzfeed that it was sent to an employee at the agency. However, a spokeswoman for the DHS said it was sent to a private citizen who had been mailing Kelly and his staff, Buzzfeed said.
In October 2017 Politico reported that Kelly’s phone had been hacked sometime in late 2016 when he was at the Trump transition headquarters.
The Engadget website reported Monday that after the president’s inauguration in January 2017 the National Security Agency warned Trump administration officials to not use personal cellphones or email accounts as they were at risk to hacking.
According to the report, despite the warnings, Trump refuses to use secure iPhones provided by the White House tech team and instead insists on using his personal Android phone from which he sends out his often headline-catching tweets. Engadget said that as of May, the president’s phone had not been reviewed by security experts for at least five months.