The White House acknowledged Tuesday that top officials, including President Donald Trump’s homeland security adviser, responded to a British-based email prankster.
Spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the White House is investigating. “We take all cyber-related issues very seriously and are looking into these incidents further,” she said in response to inquiries.
CNN identified Tom Bossert, the president’s homeland security adviser, as one of the officials who fell for the ruse. Bossert apparently believed he was corresponding with Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, and included a personal email address in his reply.
The network also said Anthony Scaramucci, who was ousted Monday after a brief tenure as communications director, also responded to the prankster, who pretended to be Reince Priebus. The two have a contentious relationship and Priebus was dismissed as chief of staff last Friday, days before Scaramucci was forced out.
Other identified by CNN are Jon Huntsman, Trump’s nominee to be the U.S. ambassador to Russia; and Eric Trump, one of the president’s two adult sons. The younger Trump said he immediately recognised the email as a “sham” and contacted authorities.
CNN said the prankster, who uses the handle SINON_REBORN on Twitter, shared the emails with the network.
“I immediately recognised it was a sham and turned it over to law enforcement right away,” Eric Trump said in an email. “It is unfortunate that people play these games and waste others’ time. They should not be rewarded.” Eric Trump later added that he alerted the U.S. Secret Service about the suspect correspondence.
The Secret Service did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Huntsman declined to comment, citing his pending nomination.