It seems everyone in President Donald Trump’s administration is a hypocrite.
While he was running for vice president, Mike Pence lambasted Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton for using a personal server to send office emails while she was secretary of state. Pence fiercely criticized Clinton throughout the 2016 presidential campaign, accusing her of deleting 33,000 emails to keep them out of public reach, all the while exposing classified information to hackers. He also told NBC that Clinton is “the most dishonest candidate for president of the United States since Richard Nixon.”
But now, it seems the tables have turned.
Vice President Mike Pence allegedly used a private email account — an account that was hacked last year — as governor of Indiana, according to the Indianapolis Star.
Pence used his private email to communicate with top officials on subjects regarding homeland security issues, the state’s response to terrorism across the globe and other confidential matters.
“In one email, Pence’s top state homeland security adviser relayed an update from the FBI regarding the arrests of several men on federal terror-related charges,” the Star reported.
Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb's office released 29 pages of emails from Pence's AOL account but not all emails were released because some were too sensitive. And that also raises concerns on what sensitive issues hackers could easily become privy to.
Cybersecurity experts say Pence’s account is much less secure than government email accounts, which often receive multiple layers of security and monitoring and are linked to servers under government control.
In fact, just last year, Pence’s AOL account was hacked by a scammer who sent an email claiming Pence and his wife had been attacked on their way back to the hotel and had their money, bank cards and cell phones stolen.
“In response, Pence sent an email to those who had received the fake communication apologizing for any inconvenience,” the paper said. “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.”
Because the scammer gained access to Pence’s contacts, experts say it is probable the account was actually penetrated, which gave the hacker access to the then-governor's inbox. It also suggests that attack was a generic, impersonal one not meant to attack Pence personally.
“It’s particularly concerning that someone who didn’t do a very particular, very specific attack was able to hack this account,” said Justin Cappos, a computer security professor at New York University's Tandon School of Engineering.
In fact, cybersecurity experts say Pence’s emails were just as insecure as Clinton’s, if not more so.
Yet, Marc Lotter, Pence’s spokesman, calls the comparison between Clinton and Pence “absurd,” stating the vice president did not deal with federally classified information when he was governor. He also said Pence used a well-known consumer email provider while Clinton had a private server installed at her home.
But when all is said and done, if Clinton was criticized for her emails, according to the same logic, Pence should be too.
Today, #MikePence broke the human landspeed record for hypocrisy.— Karl Frisch (@KarlFrisch) March 3, 2017
So #MikePence spoke harsh about Hilary's use of a personal email address yet he sent emails from AOL? ?? who the hell still uses AOL???— AKA_Da_Ghost (@BlkJax28) March 3, 2017
“There is an issue of double standard here,” said Gerry Lanosga, a professor at Indiana University and past president of the Indiana Coalition for Open Government. “He has been far from forthcoming about his own private email account on which it’s clear he has conducted state business. So there is a disconnect there that cannot be avoided.”
"Officials are eager to point the finger at a lack of transparency when it happens on the other side," he said, "but they dodge those issues when it comes to their own side."
Banner and thumbnail credit: Reuters, David Becker