- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 22, 2016

The White House is investigating the hack of the gmail account of a part-time White House employee, a breach that revealed the man was also working for Hillary Clinton’s campaign and may have exposed the details of first lady Michelle Obama’s passport.

The hacked email account belonged to Ian Mellul, who performed advance work for the White House on events that involved travel by Mrs. Obama and Vice President Joseph R. Biden. He was using a private email address, not a government account, for the messages that were leaked Thursday.

For example, in a May 1 email to Clinton campaign worker Margaret Lozier, Mr. Mellul wrote, “I was hoping to get back to DC on Tuesday, but if you need a hand for another org event etc. I can certainly help. Also, I think my [Clinton campaign stop] got pulled down tomorrow so maybe I can scout tomorrow in the morning …”

Ms. Lozier replied, “If you could pack tonight and be ready to move tomorrow evening that would be ideal. Thanks much!”

Among the other details posted online in the leak is a photograph of what looks like Mrs. Obama’s passport photo, with her passport number, date of birth and other information. There were 23 other passport photos in the attachment.

It’s the latest in a series of embarrassing breaches of the administration’s emails. White House press secretary Josh Earnest said the president’s staff is investigating how it happened.

“Certainly this is a serious situation,” he said. “We’re going to take a close look at it.”

Mr. Earnest took pains Thursday to describe Mr. Mellul as something other than a full-time White House staffer.

“These are individuals who are working with the White House, who are working with another government agency to plan travel logistics,” he said. “They are akin to contractors in that they work on a short-term periodic basis to assist in travel logistics. In order to plan the logistics for those trips, it’s not uncommon for the United States government to enter into essentially short-term contracts with private citizens, who do get paid, but they don’t have a desk at the White House.”

Asked if it was acceptable for a person being paid by the White House to perform work for Mrs. Clinton’s campaign, Mr. Earnest suggested that Mr. Mellul’s status as a part-time contractor didn’t violate any rules.

“There are strict limitations about what individual White House staffers can do with regard to political activity,” he said. “There are some things that they’re able to do on their personal time.”

The emails include correspondences with other White House employees and Mr. Mellul’s friends. His emails were made public by DC Leaks, the group that last week also publicized emails of former Secretary of State Colin Powell.

The emails describe where Mrs. Clinton would be in certain campaign events, listed who would be riding in certain cars in her motorcade. Another missive describes how many stairs Mr. Biden would walk up as he arrived at a hotel loading dock in Cleveland for a campaign event in June.

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