It will not surprise you that during the presidency of man who has never used email, the people who work for him are not very good at it themselves. A CNN report Monday evening, however, showed the true, somewhat horrifying depths of the Trump inner circle’s knownothingness when it comes to “the cyber.” According to CNN, an “email prankster” in the U.K. was able to mask his identity emailing senior members of the Trump White House and, while posing as West Wing colleagues, coax them into sensitive and embarrassing email exchanges. Unsurprisingly, Anthony “I’ll Say Anything to Anyone, Anytime” Scaramucci fell victim to this cyber-ruse.
Masquerading as Priebus, the prankster emailed Scaramucci’s official account using a mail.com account on Saturday, the day after Priebus’ resignation was announced. “I had promised myself I would leave my hands mud free,” wrote the fake Priebus, “but after reading your tweet today which stated how; ‘soon we will learn who in the media who has class, and who hasn’t’, has pushed me to this. That tweet was breathtakingly hypocritical, even for you. At no stage have you acted in a way that’s even remotely classy, yet you believe that’s the standard by which everyone should behave towards you? General Kelly will do a fine job. I’ll even admit he will do a better job than me. But the way in which that transition has come about has been diabolical. And hurtful. I don’t expect a reply.”
The very real Scaramucci responded: “You know what you did. We all do. Even today. But rest assured we were prepared. A Man would apologize.”
Fake Priebus wrote back: “I can’t believe you are questioning my ethics! The so called ‘Mooch’, who can’t even manage his first week in the White House without leaving upset in his wake. I have nothing to apologize for.”
Actual Scaramucci responded: “Read Shakespeare. Particularly Othello. You are right there. My family is fine by the way and will thrive. I know what you did. No more replies from me.”
This was not Scaramucci’s only turn at getting duped. The Mooch responded to a fake Gmail account posing as Ambassador to Russia-designate Jon Huntsman Jr. that asked Scaramucci on Friday, before Priebus was forced out: “Who’s (sic) head should roll first?” referring to Priebus and Bannon. “Maybe I can help things along somewhat.”
“Both of them,” Scaramucci responded.
Scaramucci was not the only one who responded in earnest to the imposter. Eric Trump, Homeland Security Adviser Tom Bossert, and Huntsman Jr. all engaged in email exchanges with the bogus accounts. When Bossert was contacted by an account feigning to be Jared Kushner, the security expert went so far as to offer up the fake Trump son-in-law his personal account for future use.
The spear-fishing attempt, the imposter told CNN, was for yuks, not to swipe the nuclear launch codes. Which is a relief. But on the heels of Russian cyber-aggression that helped distract at best and detonate at worst the presidential campaign of Hillary Clinton, the lack of institutional basic email competency is pretty astounding. Yes, it could happen to anyone apparently, but that’s why we don’t normally let random dudes into the White House and give them security clearance and email addresses.