In light of claims from Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin that a top aide's email was hacked, U.S. Rep. Tim Walz of Minnesota has reportedly sent a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions asking the Justice Department to investigate.
According to various news reports, Walz, the ranking member of the House Veterans' Affairs Committee, referenced "claims of email intrusion and tampering on government computers and networks," as well as evidence that someone has been using a spoof account to send emails to agency personnel, purporting to be Shulkin's Chief of Staff Vivieca Wright Simpson.
"These allegations from the VA secretary that the third senior-most official at VA may have been the target of criminals committing fraud and computer intrusion with the intention of harming her reputation, and that these criminal activities took place on VA computers and networks are very serious,” wrote Walz. “I refer these claims of email intrusion and tampering on government computers and networks, and whether other cyber crimes have been committed against senior-level VA officials or on VA computers and its network for your review.”
Secretary Shulkin has come under fire following a report from the Inspector General's office, which accuses Simpson of doctoring an email to make it look as if Shulkin was to receive a Danish government honor in Europe, so that the secretary's wife could fly to Europe on taxpayers' expense.
Shulkin has since suggested that this altered email could have been accessed by the hacker -- a contention that, if nothing else, potentially provides her with some political cover. However, when asked during a session with reporters if the doctored email was among the fake emails sent from the alleged spoofed account., Shulkin was unable to answer affirmatively, noting that he's “not a forensics expert.”
According to The Hill, Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Colo.), who has called for Shulkin's resignation, skeptically said that the hacking theory was "amazing to me."