Washington Post columnist Josh Rogin spoke out Friday about a string of bizarre interactions with self-identified employees from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) after taking multiple phone calls that purported to be from his wife’s cell phone number — but didn’t come from her.
“Today I got a call that showed up on my phone as coming from my wife, but the person on the other line was … actually from the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency [CISA],” Rogin began a Twitter thread. “This is the second time this has happened…”
Rogin explained that a man identifying himself as “Sidney” claimed he was “returning a missed call.” When Rogin asked who Sidney worked for, he responded “Homeland Security” and confirmed he worked at CISA.
“I asked him was it CISA (because this happened to me before) and he said ‘Yes,'” Rogin tweeted.
Rogin told Fox News a similar incident took place late last year when he received a similar phone call from his wife’s number “less than a minute” after ending a conversation with her.
On that occasion, a different man, who also claimed he was returning a missed call, said he worked for “the government” and later revealed he worked for CISA.
“I don’t think these guys were lying because they had no reason to lie,” Rogin told Fox News, adding that these bizarre interactions have happened under both the Trump and Biden administrations.
According to Rogin, “Sidney” was similarly confused about the circumstances but “he got nervous” after Rogin informed him he worked for the Washington Post.
Rogin’s wife, Ali, a “PBS NewsHour” foreign affairs producer, began to record her husband’s conversation with “Sidney” on her phone. Rogin later shared the recording on Dropbox.
“I knew it wasn’t my wife calling because she was standing next to me with her phone in her hand,” the Post columnist tweeted. “She started to record, as Sidney played coy. He said ‘I don’t know what’s going on, this is just my work phone.'”
Rogin is heard asking: “Don’t you find it odd you would receive a call from a Washington Post reporter and you would call back and it shows up as my wife? Doesn’t that seem weird to you?”
“Yeah, I don’t know about that,” the man replied. “I’m just returning the phone call that you called. But I appreciate your time, you don’t need anything from me?”
“Uh, no,” Rogin replied. “I mean, I’d really like to know if CISA is involved in monitoring the calls of an American journalist. That’s what I’d like to know.”
The man quickly hung up.
CISA reacted to Rogin’s tweets as they went viral, writing: “To be clear, CISA does not monitor phone conversations. We encourage everyone to be vigilant against phishing schemes, many of which use spoofed numbers. Don’t fall for it!”
Rogin, the author of the book “Chaos Under Heaven: Trump, Xi, and the Battle for the 21st Century,” rejected the notion that it was a “phishing scheme,” replying to the agency, “Phishing schemes try to get you to do something. These two guys had no idea why we were on the phone and self identified as @CISAgov employees and then hung up.”
“This is something different,” Rogin told Fox News, adding that he was “not speculating” on why CISA employees would be calling him.
“We would both love to know why this has happened twice now,” Ali Rogin wrote on Twitter,
A spokesperson for CISA told Fox News “we do not” monitor or surveil journalists.
However, when pressed whether the voice heard in the recording is or is not an employee of CISA or DHS, the spokesperson declined to answer.
“I’m simply saying we do not monitor phone conversations,” the CISA spokesperson told Fox News. “Beyond that, don’t have anything besides our tweet about being vigilant to spoofing.”
Fox News also reached out to DHS, who pointed to CISA’s tweet.
However, in a strange twist, Rogin spoke with another self-identified CISA employee after he attempted to call his wife later that day.
“How may I help you?” the man is heard asking in a recording shared by Rogin.
“Yeah, is this CISA, DHS?” Rogin asked.
“May I ask who’s calling?” the man followed.
“Yeah, this is Josh Rogin,” Rogin answered. “I’m just wondering why when I call my wife’s phone, it gets picked up by CISA and DHS.”
“Uh, I have no idea, sir,” the man replied.
“Are you guys doing phone call monitoring?” Rogin asked.
“How did you get this number?” the man asked.
“I tried calling my wife’s number and you answered,” Rogin told the man.
“You say your name is what now?” the man asked.
“Josh Rogin. I’m with the Washington Post,” the columnist replied. “Can I have your name, sir?”
“Okay, I appreciate your time,” the man said before hanging up.
Both CISA and DHS did not immediately respond to Fox News’ additional request for comment.