Vice President Mike Pence is being accused of using a private email account during his tenure as Indiana's governor, and getting hacked while using that account. Critics of the administration are drawing parallels to the criticism Hillary Clinton received during the presidential election.
John Berman of CNN talked to the reporter who broke the story Thursday. "Here's the headline up tonight at the Indianapolis Star site," Berman reported, "exclusive, as governor, Mike Pence routinely used a private email account for state business, and was hacked. Joining us now on the phone, the reporter who broke this, Tony Cook. Tony, give us the nuts and bolts here. Vice President Pence while governor of Indiana, used a private email account to do official government business?"
"That's right," Cook answered, "he used a personal AOL account to correspond with his top advisors on issues related to Homeland Security and other sensitive issues."
"And you were actually able to obtain some of these emails," Berman inquired, "do they contain any sensitive material?"
"That's right," Cook replied, "we obtained about almost 30 emails through a public records request and the emails themselves that we received, don't contain too much in the way of sensitive information, although there are emails where Pence requests updates on investigations. And in one case, his Homeland Security adviser relays an update from the FBI regarding the arrest of several people on federal terror-related charges."
"And this was on his private email account?" Berman asked.
"That's right," Cooke replied, "an AOL account. The cybersecurity experts told us it can be vulnerable to attacks from hackers. In fact, his email was hacked by apparently a scammer who you know sent an email out to his contacts claiming that Pence was stuck in the Philippines and needed some money wired to him."
"OK, so the account was hacked," Berman continued. "What has the Vice President said about this?"
"Well, Pence hasn't spoken about it yet," Cook responded. "His office did send us a statement regarding this. And he says that he fully complied with Indiana law regarding these emails and the way that they need to be used and retained. And his spokesman downplayed any comparisons to Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server and email account, saying any comparisons are absurd."
— Anderson Cooper 360° (@AC360) March 3, 2017
Cook detailed the hacking of Pence's email and how he responded at the time:
Pence’s own account was compromised in June when a hacker sent a counterfeit email to his contacts claiming Pence and his wife had been attacked on their way back to their hotel in the Philippines, losing their money, bank cards and mobile phone.
In response, Pence sent an email to those who had received the fake communication apologizing for any inconvenience. He also set up a new AOL account.
Because the hacker appears to have gained access to Pence’s contacts, experts say it is likely that the account was actually penetrated, giving the hacker access to Pence’s inbox and sent messages.
This comes on the heels of bad news for the Trump administration as Attorney General Jeff Sessions had to recuse himself from investigations into the Trump campaign after it was discovered that he neglected to divulge his interactions with a Russian ambassador to the confirmation committee.
Democrats are accusing him of committing perjury and demanding he resign, while President Trump stands firmly behind him, blaming Democrats for the "witch hunt."