Monday afternoon, CNN reported what could be the funniest thing to transpire in this White House in at least the last few days: A self-described “email prankster” trolled numerous top officials successfully by posing as other top officials and engaging them in sometimes harmless, sometimes insidious exchanges. Every single one of the targets was fooled, at least for a short time.
Traced to the United Kingdom, the prankster posed, variously, as Jared Kushner, Reince Priebus, and former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman — who was recently nominated to be ambassador to Russia. He also fooled Huntsman in another exchange, pretending to be Donald Trump’s son, Eric.
As “Kushner,” the anonymous emailer contacted Tom Bossert, a top-level Homeland Security adviser. That sentence should give you pause, because I just said that a guy at Homeland Security got fooled by a fake email. Nothing harmful was proferred to Bossert; it was an invitation to an upcoming event:
Tom, we are arranging a bit of a soirée towards the end of August. It would be great if you could make it, I promise food of at least comparible [sic] quality to that which we ate in Iraq. Should be a great evening.”
Suspecting nothing, Bossert wrote back:
Thanks, Jared. With a promise like that, I can’t refuse.”
But easily the funniest prank the British impostor pulled was posing as former Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, in a series of emails with now-fired Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci. The two famously had a terrible relationship, with Scaramucci publicly calling Priebus a “fucking paranoid schizophrenic.” In the emails, which were all exchanged shortly after Priebus “resigned” last week, Fake Reince needled the still-employed-at-the-time comms chief:
I had promised myself I would leave my hands mud free, 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.”
Scaramucci took the bait, eventually directing “Reince” to 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.”
That was particularly hilarious to me, as I wrote a piece on Scaramucci’s firing soon after it happened on Monday, and took quite a Shakespearean angle. It wasn’t the only exchange Scaramucci was taken in by — the prankster also posed as Huntsman to him, asking whose “head should roll first” between Priebus and Trump’s top adviser Steve Bannon. “Both of them,” wrote the now-unemployed talking head.
Contacted by CNN, the prankster said their intentions were all in good humor:
I try and keep it on the humorous side of things. I’m not trying to get the keys to the vault or anything like that.”
It’s more than a little scary to note, however, that such a “humorist” could see the keys in the first place.
Featured image via Michael Bocchieri/Getty Images