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John Kelly's personal email account was reportedly hacked

As a result, the former secretary of Homeland Security said he tries to avoid electronic communication, according to BuzzFeed.

John Kelly

Former Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, who is now White House chief of staff

Saul Loeb/Getty Images

An email reportedly sent by John Kelly last year when he was secretary of Homeland Security confirms rumors that his personal email account had been hacked.

The email, which was dated June 8, 2017, was obtained by BuzzFeed News in response to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit. Kelly, who is now White House chief of staff, reportedly said the breach led him to avoid electronic communication and do "almost everything now by phone or face-to-face comms."

The email also reportedly reveals that during his time as secretary of Homeland Security, Kelly told an official not to send staff emails about the department's work to avoid leaks and public scrutiny. 

"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, according to BuzzFeed. "FOIA is real and everyday here in the cesspool, and even federal court action on personal accounts is real. Then there is hacking which one of my own personal accounts has suffered recently."   

The recipient of the email was redacted for privacy, though BuzzFeed reports that two DHS sources said it was sent to another DHS official. A spokeswoman for the agency told the publication that "Kelly sent it to a private citizen who was bombarding Kelly and other DHS employees with emails." 

The other issue, Kelly said in the email, is that around half of the people who work for him voted for Hillary Clinton and some "find some of the postings offensive," BuzzFeed reports. 

Kelly was also apparently concerned about staffers' emails being leaked to the press. 

"Again, the atmosphere in the cesspool makes it a blood sport to leak so if and when you enter the fray you need to be very-very careful," he reportedly wrote in the email. "Infinitely more than you had to in the past."

The White House didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

First published June 8, 2018 at 2:59 p.m. PT.
Update, 4:04 p.m. PT: Adds that DHS spokeswoman disputed reports that the email was sent to another DHS official.