NEW REPORTING CONFIRMS what previous stories speculated: chief of staff John Kelly's phone was hacked, and now they know where. They still don't know by whom, or how, or why, or what the damage was.
Citing 2 unnamed U.S. officials, Politico says White House officials have narrowed down the time and likely location of the hack: President Donald Trump’s Washington transition headquarters, in late 2016.
Kelly, who first served as Trump’s secretary of homeland security, reported the phone had stopped working properly in December after he entered the transition office space, which was made available by the General Services Administration, the officials said. Kelly said it functioned well before that time.
Although many of Trump’s high-profile meetings with lawmakers and potential Cabinet members before his inauguration occurred in New York at Trump Tower, much of his transition staff worked out of the office space about three blocks from the White House.
Officials have tried to determine whether Kelly signed onto an insecure wireless network there or whether a hacker, foreign government or some other outside force could have accessed the phone there.
"That's where it seems to have started," one White House official with knowledge of the review said. The official said the transition building was only one possible site for the breach. Officials have not ruled out other possibilities, such as foreign trips before Kelly joined the administration, though they have not seen evidence for that.
No comment from The White House.
No disclosure of whether others in the White House were also hacked.
And in related news... Buzzfeed reports:
When John Kelly was Secretary of Homeland Security, he instructed an official to refrain from sending emails to staff about the department’s work to limit public scrutiny and leaks.
“As we discussed in NYC about the toxic atmosphere here in the D.C. cesspool, my folks are nervous about e-mails you send and ask that you no longer include them on any postings,” Kelly wrote in a June 8, 2017 email. The identity of the person he sent the email to was redacted on privacy grounds. “FOIA is real and everyday here in the cesspool, and even federal court action on personal accounts is real.”
Kelly’s email, referring to the Freedom of Information Act, which allows journalists and the public to petition the federal government for a wide-range of official records, including emails, was obtained by BuzzFeed News in response to a FOIA lawsuit.
Kelly, now President Trump’s chief of staff, also confirmed in his email what had been rumored: that his personal email account had been hacked. Due to the breach, Kelly said he rarely communicated electronically and instead does “almost everything now by phone or face-to-face comms.”